The Future of Grapevines
This is where a conversation on future technologies recently wound up. Myself and a couple other folks were talking about what the future might hold. As it always does, wine found its way into the discussion. We got there by considering the implications of genetic manipulations.It appears that geneticists are able to more precisely manipulate the genetic structure of plants today to the point where it is becoming much easier to alter them for use as food and fuel and even for absorbing carbon and cleaning the environment.
So, we started wondering what changes to vine material might winemakers clamor for over the next 50 years or so. The range of suggests that spilled from our minds was interesting, and revealing.
On the one hand, there is this layer of tradition that is draped over the wine industry and envelopes its members that would likely lead to a backlash against the idea of manipulating varieties of grapes. But I bet those folks in the more northern climes who pine to produce bigger, richer reds might eventually come around to the idea.
Certainly I can see a number of vineyard managers and winemakers enjoying the idea of grape vines that are not susceptible to disease and pests. That's a no brainer.
The real interesting area to consider is yeasts. Again, I can imagine a number of winemakers who might want a more varied and robust toolbox of yeasts to choose from in order to better control and manipulate their fermentations. Imagine having the opportunity "inject" various flavors and textures into a wine based only on the yeast one has at their disposal.
But what about oak barrels? The species of oak clearly has an impact on the aging of wine from the flavors and tannins it imparts to the pace at which the wine ages due to the porousness of the grain. Surely new types of Oaks might be developed to give winemakers greater choice in their aging regimen.
One thing is for sure. Whatever changes come to the world of grapegrowing and winemaking due to genetic technology, it's bound to be driven by economics; the prospect of gaining an economic edge or advantage. The Biotech companies will give us that for which they think there is a market. So if winemakers clamor enough for this or that, if they complain loudly about this challenge or that, then these are the things we will see addressed by future advances in viticultural biotechnology.