Wednesday, June 26, 2013

OMG! Vineyard spraying in Champagne and Bordeaux is creating sterile deserts

This is just wrong, folks. Vinifera grapes have gotten so weak against natural funguses that they require massive spray programs. In France the sprays are so many and so deadly that vineyards have become dead zones (except for the grapes, of course).

There will be a growing backlash against this crazy practice. There is an alternative: modern grape varieties (hybrids), which are crosses of vinifera grapes with disease-resistant American grapes (we have more more native grape species than any other country, I think). In the successful crosses, you get the taste of vinifera and  the disease resistance of the American parent. Easy. All we need is for talented winemakers to keep making and marketing the new wines, and someday the worms, birds, and insects can breathe a sigh of relief.

read about it here.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

An interesting article about modern varieties of grapes/wines in Vermont, and how successful they are becoming:

Read about it here.

We are seeing a wave of modern winegrapes moving over the country. They are much Greener than the classical vinifera wines whose genes they carry (along with the genes of hardy American grapes): less spraying, less tractor fuel, more cold hardiness, earlier ripening. The wines are the true test, though, and the wines can be really excellent.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2013: A warm start to the vintage, in the Pac Northwest:

Weather Underground is a good source of historical weather info. I use it to check on Growing Degree Days (base 50F), which is a measure of the amount by which the average daily high and low temps exceed 50 degrees F. It's a rough proxy for sunshine, and thus it correlates with grape development and ripeness.

Year to date 2013, we've had 534 GDD's near our place. Compare that this time in 2012 (a warm year for grapes), which was only 381! And in 2011 (a cool, wet year), it was only 216! It's early, but it looks like it may be a warm year, great for grape ripening.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yet another reason why modern varieties of grapes are better than the old vinifera varieties

Napa is going to replant about 15% of the whole valley, due to the surprise inability of a rootstock (promoted 20 yrs ago by UC Davis) to withstand Red Blotch Disease.

Read about it here.

This is yet another reason why modern varieties (sometimes called "hybrids", with American grapes in their parentage) are better than vinifera. American grapes have evolved to keep up with the attacks by fungi and viruses, whereas for 2000+ years we have prevented vinifera grapes from evolving (by cutting and rooting them, instead of allowing them to make seeds, and then growing the seeds), so vinifera grapes have not been allowed to develop defenses against new microbe attackers.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How winemaking got to France

I'm sure the French would like to think they invented winemaking, but that occurred somewhere in the vicinity of Persia in about 5000 B.C.E. Winemaking came to France in about 500 B.C.E., and it came (drum roll, please) - - -  from Italy! From the Etruscans, to be precise, who made wine and infused it with herbs, probably as a medicine.

Read the article here.

The article is published with this photo, taken at VinItaly in Verona (photo credit to Business Insider; VinItaly is the world's largest wine exposition).  I must say I have been to VinItaly but I never saw anything quite like this there ;)