Vitis Vinifera is the species of grape we use for making most wines. Like apples and humans, wine grapes are heterozygous…that is, each seed represents an array of genetic material intent to be different from each other. Each seed is unique. But, like apples and like so many human High School experiences, “sameness” is standard for wine grapes. We clone and propagate varietals via cuttings and grafting, hoping to replicate the DNA and fruit of mother vines. In short, we circumvent the vine’s genetic capacity to provide vast variation and differences in it’s seeds through our selection for our own desires.
To make matters even more confusing, we have selected hermaphrodite vines to do our bidding, some 8,000 years ago! NO longer relying on wind and pollinating insects, vines pollinate themselves, cloning themselves in a perpetual pattern of sameness. So how do we get varieties, you may ask?
We tinker with grape sex. We deliberately cross pollinate, experimenting with the genetic material of known varietal clones. Most varietals as we know them are the product of extreme horticulture. But some aren’t.
Outside the winery, I have a few wild vines sprouted up from seeds in a compost pile, survivors of ferments and pressing…(and you all know that I don’t press very hard anyway…). I am excited to see what these vines might produce! Most likely, they will make nasty bitter fruit…but maybe not.