The Winemaker/Artist Rejoices
So it was French and Italian researchers who have assembled the first complete genome of the grapevine. That seems apropos to me.
It also seems to me that this kind of research will eventually lead to a variety of things. Not least among them is that in time grapes will be grown in more places than they are now as varieties are created to produce usable wine grapes. That means more books being published. More seminars on wine regions. More sections in the wine stores.
But most importantly, what this new breakthrough means is that the winemaker will in time become even more the "artist" as more tools will be at their disposal for the creation of the wine they have in their imagination. I can’t think of a reason why this is anything other than good. The notion of the winemaker as the person who "is just a caretaker for what the land gives me" always struck me as modest, to say the least. While they can be this, they can certainly be more.
One wonders, however, if, down the line when so many new and human created varieties are in the market and proliferating, if there will be wineries that still use the old "heirloom" varieties that, they explain "once proliferated in California’s vineyards way back in the 00s when winemaking was in its first heyday"?
“One wonders, however, if, down the line when so many new and human created varieties are in the market and proliferating, if there will be wineries that still use the old “heirloom” varieties that, they explain “once proliferated in California’s vineyards way back in the 00s when winemaking was in its first heyday”?”
Well, there’s Rubicon, which touts Clone 29 as a unique aspect of their wines.
the public is still so hung up over genetically-modified foods, it will take a while before they accept wine from GMO grapevines, esp premium/luxury wines
just like heirloom tomatoes….
heck, if they can grow good wine grapes in the Olduvai Gorge (and they can!) then who knows what to expect?
“The notion of the winemaker as the person who “is just a caretaker for what the land gives me” always struck me as modest”
Tom, thank you so much for mentioning this! Sure, it is true that the best winemaker will have a difficult time making great wine from poor grapes (if not impossible), but the notion that “wine is made in the vineyard” is in my opinion an over simplification which does no justice to the large community of people who participate in winemaking. And I’m not talking just about the winemaker here. What about the people that design and develop modern winery equipment? What about the chemist who analysis juice before fermentation even begins? What about the cooper? I could go on and on.
If we want to emphasize how important the vineyard is in winemaking, we can find ways to do so without “ignoring” the majority of the winemaking community. Sure everyone in the wine industry knows what goes on between harvest and bottling, but the wine consumer may not realize the amount of work and effort that it takes to produce a great wine… in the winery.
I am tired of hearing that “wine is made in the vineyard” – it gives consumers the wrong impression. We just squeeze the grapes, throw the juice in a barrel and voilá… wine in your glass!
I actually think it’s fascinating when the viticulturist and oenologist work together to create the wine, rather than in their own separate worlds. Yes, a good viticulturist is going to plant what works best in a certain area and tend it to optimize the fruit. But there are all kinds of things that can be done in the vineyard to ‘customize’ the fruit, to some extent, to a particular style (how much fruit is dropped, is one that immediately comes to mind).
I think it’s a blurry line where art begins with wine. Sure, the varietals (and more and more of them) are the major colors in a winemakers palette, but some of the nuance and character is created–deliberately–out in the vinyeard too.
I mentioned this story on the air yesterday, and the notion that came to MY mind was that GMO is GMO, and that the public will react to genetically modified grapes in about the same manner that they’ve reacted to GMO corn or soy.
Anyway didn’t the Wine Institute already come out and say to the effect that GMO grapes are anathema to the California wine industry?
how can anything you ultimately excrete be called art? that’s a stretch of more than just the imagination wine is the artistic equivalent of a really really good black velvet elvis it means a lot to some people, but basically hangs for a while in a bad place, then, straight to the dumpster of course, if studebakers covered with bits of broken glass and kewpie dolls are art, then i guess so is wine either the word “art” is definable, or else anything you want to call art, is art i’ve stood in front of great paintings, and i’ve maybe had a coupla glasses of great wine no comparison and when i came back from the men’s room, the painting was still there, on the wall, not on its subterranean trip to the sewage treatment plant i guess you could consider wine performance art, eh? or, in the case of too much, lack of performance art as for winemakers being artists, once again, PUUHLEEEZZE! don’t make me choke on my Conundrum bartenders are more worthy of the title winemakers and lawyers are basically equivalent on the slime scale- just below writers and above married senators who cruise airport mens rooms how many winemakers does it take to hit on your wife/husband before you know?
I see a ready application for genetic advances to assist researchers to develop rootstocks tailored to help improve terroir, though it is respectworthy that winegrape industry entities like the Wine Institute recognize the importance of some kind of arms length application of new technology in a way that will preserve safety and consistency of the fruit and wine.
I think professor Harold Olmo would have delighted in having the genome as one more way to understand vine development. Here is a photo of him on a winery website with his famous quote about needing a little time to develop a vine that would grow on the moon.