Thursday, November 16, 2017

The "H" word--and why smart people focus on the wine and what it tastes like, instead of bashing an entire segment of the industry

In wines, "hybrid" has been a bad word. It's a word used by those who want to tar an entire segment of the winemaking industry. It is borne out of wine snobbery. These critics dismiss the idea that a grape, which is bred by crossing a European winegrape with some other (probably American, maybe Asian) grape, cannot make a good wine. Nothing could be further from the truth. And there are good reasons to make these crosses of grapes, which I like to call "modern varieties:" earlier ripening, better disease resistance, and greater resistance to deep freezes. The challenge is to do this in a way that creates interesting flavors which are appreciated by consumers. This challenge has been ongoing for over a century now, as university professors and growers and winemakers have collaborated to breed new grapes and make good wines from these newer varieties.

I cannot count the good wines I've had, made from modern varieties grown in such places as Vermont and Virginia and New Mexico and Montana. I've been growing and testing modern varieties for a long time now, even though I live in vinifera country (SW Washington state, where classic winegrapes are extensively grown).

Hey--we appreciate new varieties of apples (such as Honeycrisp)--why not grapes too?

If you want to be a smarter wine lover, then take each wine on its own merits, and either like it or not, but consider it based on what it is like, not based on whether it is a modern or classical grape variety. Please don't dismiss a huge segment of the industry as no good, when that is clearly untrue.

Enjoy your winesearch!

Here is the article.

Here is a photo of the Epona Vineyard (all modern varieties of grapes) taken a couple of weeks ago, as the vines fell into the slumber of late Fall.