Does A God Of White Grapes Exist?

Genetics
What is moral?
Does free will exist?
Is there a God?
Why are there white grapes?

Thanks to geneticists it seems we have an answer to the last question. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it was geneticists that answered the first three questions, with perhaps a little help from theoretical physicists.

According to research conducted by CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) white grapes developed 1000s of years ago only after the rare occurrence of two genes having mutated to create a mother plant that produced white grapes.

According to Dr Mandy Walker from CSIRO Plant Industry’s Adelaide laboratory, "Our research suggests that extremely rare and independent mutations in
two genes produced a single white grapevine that was the parent of
almost all of the world’s white grape varieties. If only one gene had
been mutated, most grapes would still be red and we would not have the
more than 3000 white grape cultivars available today."

The implication of this discovery is that the future creation of new grape varieties will be much more highly controlled. It appears we are moving closer to the day when geneticists and plant breeders might be able to create new varieties of grapes that can produce wines of very specific characters.

Again, Dr. Walker: "The discovery also has great potential for producing interesting and
exciting new varieties with novel colours in the future, through
genetic modification. One of the areas of future study is to determine
if these two genes control the amount of red pigment made, so the
colour of grapes can be improved.”

Wine drinkers and winemakers don’t take too readily to new varieties. We have newer ones. Many of them in fact. But they don’t really take off. Clearly this has to do with marketing. But what if plant breeders in league with geneticists created a grape that produced a wine with remarkably deep color, with the mouthfeel of Cabernet and the aromatics of Pinot Noir and that at peak ripeness delivered only 12% alcohol?

I’d like this! A lot!

However, one can’t help but wonder if such a grape would ever make its way past the anti-GMO contingent. But that’s another post.

Suffice to say, it appears we live in an age when the geneticist is the groundbreaker, the source of hope on many fronts. I’ll be rooting for them to create me a 12% alcohol, full bodied red wine with the earthy, bacony, raspberry aromas I love so much. And along the way, if they help cure cancer or find a way to retard the progression of Alzheimer’s, or confirm that there is or is not a God, that too would be very very nice.


No Responses

  1. Randy - March 6, 2007

    Tom,
    I gotta say I’m a purist, and don’t really go for the GMO angle. Of course, my wife buys us organic uncured bacon, fer crying out loud. But I digress.
    The “allure” of gene-therapy on grapes probably stops at the labratory door, that’s my guess. But I’m with you that the extraordinarily hot (high alcohol) wines that have been the norm in CA really would be better off in the 12% neighborhood. Perhaps it’s the *yeast* we should be looking at…
    –R


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