“A handful of California’s best vintners today admit to having used ‘suitcase cloning’ to avoid yearslong waits in USDA quarantine for their vines.
Their stories of success after stuffing cane buds down pants legs and in backpacks romanticized an outlaw behavior that, even if it’s not directly responsible for a coming wave of vineyard spraying over most of Napa Valley, has reminded growers that one person’s miscalculation can affect them all.”
Still, nobody knows for sure how the moth got there. Cone notes that entomologists aren’t sure if the moth could actually survive on cuttings in a suitcase, and there are other theories being tossed around: Did it hitch a ride on imported machinery, or, gasp, get introduced intentionally as some diabolical scheme?
Regardless of whether a smuggled vine proves to be the culprit, the deputy agricultural commissioner for Napa County, Greg Clark, has a clear message to vintners about sneaking in cuttings: “Knock it off.”