Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

So, Have You Heard of This?

Posted by EMark, Apr 26.

California "Old Vine" wines, Zinfandel, especially, have been getting a lot of attention in the last few years.  I, certainly, have been paying more attention to them, lately, mostly as a result of the postings of Outthere on some of the historic vineyards in his neck of the woods.  He interested me enough to join the Historic Vineyard Society, and I have enjoyed learning about these vineyards at the site.  Of, course, I also enjoy learning about these vineyards by trying the wines that come from them.

In the past I have commented here on the the legal definition, and the lack of legal definition, of much of the nomenclature that is used on labels.  "Old Vine" and variations thereof come under the category of not legally defined.  It means nothing, and is inserted on the label for marketing reasons.

Since I know this, I always pick up bottles that have this nomenclature on the label out of curiosity as much as anything else.  I would say that over 90% of the time such labelings do not identify the vineyard source.  I usually return these to the shelf.  Occasionally, the vineyard will be identified on the front label or on the back label.  In these cases, I will generally put the bottle in my basket.

Yesterday, I was killing time in a Cost Plus World Market store.  This is the first time in several years that I have been in one of these, and I was pretty disappointed in their wine selection.  It has definitely been downgraded.  In the Zinfandel section I picked up a bottle of Dry Creek Vineyards (a very good winery) "Heritage Vines" Zinfandel.  What the heck are "Heritage Vines?"  Also on the front label is "Preserving the Tradition of Old Vines" and "Budwood from Historic Pre-Prohibition Vineyards."

From the back label:

Heritage Vines Zinfandel is the result of grafting budwood from century-old vines onto new rootstock.  Vines propagated in this manner ensure the future of old vine Zinfandel flavors and character.

I'm not sure I'm buying into this concept.  (I did buy the wine, though.)  Is there any science that supports this, or is this marketing fluff?  I guess I would feel better about it if they identified the source of the "Pre-Prohibition"  budwood (they do not) and gave more specifics on the new vineyard (located "Hillside" in "Sonoma County").  They do claim that the "Vine Age" is 20 years.  I am guess that means that the grafting occurred 20 years ago.

Any ideas?

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Reply by gregt, Apr 26.

Emark - I see no science at all here. All Zin is from century-old vines. As far as I know, ZIn wasn't hybridized this century, or even last century, so all the Zin in the world is coming from some original plant.

It's not like it's the son or daughter, it IS the original plant.

I just got done cutting back my roses. Some of them date from the late 1700s so they're probably as old as any of those heritage vines. So are many apples - Braeburn, Russet, etc.

The way things are propagated is by taking a cutting from the plant and sticking it into the ground and letting it root. Some cuttings die but some grow roots and voila! A new plant.

So what happens? You take a cutting every year and you root it. After 10 years, you have 10 plants. They are all genetically identical. Then a shoot comes up from one of them and you have a slightly different colored flower or grape. Oddly enough, it's the same as the original but for some reason unknown, some gene mutated and you have a white grape instead of a red one, or a white flower instead of a pink one So then you let that grow a bit and then take some cuttings and propagate that one. It's how we get Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc or Tempranillo and Tempranillo Blanca, or Garnacha and Garnacha Blanca.

Some things we can see and some we can't, so just like you could have accidentally taken a bud and been surprised by a white grape, you can be surprised by other things. It's why you can order clone XR7 or Z643 or Dijon clones or Wente clones or whatever - something mutated along the way.

Since phylloxera, most vitus vinefera vines have been grafted like apples rather than propagated on their own roots but the idea is the same. The only way you get the same grape is to propagate the original by cloning.

It wouldn't matter if you took a cutting from a vine that's been around 100 years or one that you only propagated 4 years ago because you don't graft old wood.

The budwood is always new wood, whether it's from a plant that's been in your garden for 100 years or 3 years.

So if your grandfather took cuttings from his vines and planted a second vineyard, then your father took cuttings from those and planted a third, and you were going to plant a fourth, why would it matter which of those three vineyards you got your cuttings from? Unless you were trying to propagate some mutation that you found in one of the vineyards and that you liked.

 

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Reply by dvogler, Apr 26.

What are you, a Botanist?  :)

Actually, that stuff's pretty cool.  My dad was an ornamental iron worker, but he did stuff like that.  We always had a killer garden and he grafted apple trees.  I think we had a tree that had several kinds of apples on it.  So, Zin is Primitivo right?

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Reply by EMark, Apr 26.

I'm pretty sure his middle name is Faust.

Greg, let me cogitate on that, a bit.  As usual, you have overwhelmed me.

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Reply by outthere, Apr 26.

My definition of Old Vines are vines that have been in the ground more than 50 years. Their roots go deep into the ground in search of water. The vines produce a low yield of crop but of intense color, flavor and create wines with great structure.  Heritage vines are completely different. Now, if you grafted that heritage budwood to 50 year old root stock you may come up with similar results but in this day of aesthetically pleasing vineyard rows, drip irrigation and 4 ton/acre yields you are not going to see any people taking the former route.

A bottle labeled "Old Vines" is generally coming from a mix of vineyards and that is why you do not see a vineyard designation. Doesn't make it bad, just not a single vineyard wine. It won't have characteristics that are common to a single vineyard and will come in at a lower price level.

Then you have the issue of a vineyard designate that may or may not be old vine. The Bacigalupi family in Healdsburg has Old Vine Zin and other Zin blocks that are 15-20 years old. Being sure that the wine contains the grapes you are seeking out takes a little more investigation.

The Monte Rosso Zin I drank tonight came from old vines because they don't have anything but old vine Zinfandel. They have newer blocks of Cabernet and Semillon but also old vine blocks of both. It gets so confusing some times. Best bet is to buy from a producer you trust who spells it out for you or one whom you have visited and know what fruit they produce their wine from.

Labeling can be very deceptive. Shouldn't be that way but it's the American marketing way. Great product speaks for itself and doesn't need tricky marketing ploys.

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Reply by gregt, Apr 26.

Amen to that!

And I never believed that there was anything sacred about single vineyards either. The whole point of mixing them is to make a great product.

The one thing that used to happen but doesn't so much today is massale selection. Basically people would take their best vines and propagate those. That was done long before anyone even imagined such a thing as DNA, let alone had Mendel to figure out that it must exist or the Watson-Crick model to explain it. But they're still from the original plant. That however, is partly what accounts for the differences that you might find in the Sangiovese in Brunello and in Rufina, or the Tempranillo in Rioja and Toro.

Or so they say. Secretly I believe the local weather and climate conditions have a lot more to do with the differences than anything else does. Although to be fair, it is true that some grapes like Sangiovese or the Pinots tend to mutate more than other grapes do.

With roses it's kind of fun. First rose patented in the US is a rose called New Dawn. The original rose was a single. In other words, it hat five petals, just like an apple blossom. Then one day some guy came out into his garden and found a double, which non-intuitively means it had a shitload of petals. (In other words, not just ten.) That one showed up in 1910 and was named Dr. van Fleet.

Then one day in the summer, long after roses were supposed to have bloomed, some guy came out and found his Dr. van Fleet rose blooming again. He cut that shoot and rooted it and then made cuttings and rootings from that plant and in so doing, created the rose called New Dawn. He got a patent on it, which would have caused a stir at the time but it was in 1937, at which time the world's attention was elsewhere. The plant is still available and is a wonderful rose that you should grow if you have space. It also spawned a lot of offspring. In fact, a sport of that rose doubled the petal count again, creating the rose called Awakening. However, all four roses - the original, Dr. van Fleet, New Dawn and Awakening, were created from cuttings originating with one single rose.

DV - yes, Primitivo and Zin are the same. Not a botanist but today I was cleaning out the garden and gave my neighbor a little tree that was grafted with five fruits, so now she'll have peaches, apricots, nectarines and plums on one tree. Not a lot of space in NYC!  My grandfather used to do that when I was a kid.

OT - as far as the vines going deep and all that, I have to demur. That's what everyone says, but I have yet to see any science to it. Basically, after you have a plant that's three or four years old, the vast majority of the roots are in the top five or six feet of the soil. Take a look at trees that get blown over in the wind and see where the root mass is. It's surprising at first, but then it makes sense because that's where all the nutrients are. Down beyond that it's rock or sand or something w/out a lot of nutrition. An old vine has a larger root mass than a young one, but the proportion is the same - the vast majority by a long shot is in the top layers of the soil, so the vast majority of whatever the vine uses is in the top layers of the soil.

The main reason old vines are interesting to me is because of the training and pruning. As you point out, most of them aren't trellised and cut to single or double canes, etc. That leaves the plant up to its own devices and plants are pretty smart - they'll figure out how much fruit they need, how many leaves, etc. They've had millions of years to do so after all. We chop them and cut them and train them and pull leaves and cut fruit and the plant gets entirely confused. But I think that's why the old vines are always grapes that aren't quite as respected as Cab and Merlot. You find Carinena, Monastrell, Garnacha, and Zin because people left them to their own devices and abandoned the vineyards. And today many of those vines make wonderful wines. We imported a white from pre-phylloxera vines. Nobody knows how old they are but they make nice wine.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 27.

"OT - as far as the vines going deep and all that, I have to demur. That's what everyone says, but I have yet to see any science to it. Basically, after you have a plant that's three or four years old, the vast majority of the roots are in the top five or six feet of the soil. Take a look at trees that get blown over in the wind and see where the root mass is. It's surprising at first, but then it makes sense because that's where all the nutrients are."

Seems to me you're denying the existence of taproots in grapes, Greg. If so, I think you've been overly influenced by the agricultural practices of the very last few decades out in California, and elsewhere. Though this may involve a bit of thread drift, what I'm particularly interested in is how water use has become a result-or-cause of a desired style of (in my view, crappy) wine. If I were back in CA and had followed one of my family's traditions, I'd definitely be dry-farming grapes...

 

Some other viewpoints (statements in boldface are my emphasis):

"Older vineyards, both in the US and in Europe (as indicated in the Wikipedia excerpt below) were dry farmed. They were not planted in narrow rows on every possible acre. Many of the old vineyards are still dry farmed without any irrigation because, as vines naturally mature, they develop long taproots to take their water from deeper in the ground as they need it."  from the Anderson Valley Advisor

 

"Grape vines survive just fine without much water. Mature grape vines have extraordinarily deep tap roots, sometimes going down forty or more feet."  from Veedercrest's website

 

'All of Napa was dry farmed until the 1960s when overhead irrigation was introduced, although overhead was primarily a frost control device. A primitive form of drip irrigation was first seen in the early 1970s, but prior to that, the vines got whatever nature delivered. So, as Williams points out, the wines that formed the classic Napa Cabernets--Inglenook, Beaulieu, Louis Martini and a handful of others--were from dry farmed vineyards. "What have we lost?" Williams asked during an interview, clearly not expecting an answer. 

'Williams also looks to the past in planting a new vineyard, which he prefers to do rather than try to convert existing drip irrigated vines to dry farming. Rather than the common practice of bench grafting, Williams field grafts the young vines, giving the rootstock a head start. "I want to see vigorous growth above the ground, because I know there will be equal below-ground root growth." If a new rootstock seems to be struggling, a hole at least 2 feet deep is dug beside the plant, and 5 gallons of water poured in. The hole is then covered. "I don't want to put the water on the surface for the young roots. I want them to learn to go deep for moisture." If the rootstock is healthy, it is grafted the year following planting. At Frog's Leap Winery in Napa Valley, some 200 acres of dry farmed vineyards are tilled every 10 days to create a thick dust mulch that seals moisture in just below the surface. Williams pointed out that a vine grown on drip irrigation is essentially a potted plant sitting in the middle of a field, with moisture and nutrients delivered through the drip system. He believes that is a problem. "What kind of flavor do you get from a hydroponic-grown tomato? Very little. Same thing with a grapevine. When the winemaker comes out to taste the berry at 22° or 23° Brix, the flavor isn't there. So the decision is made to leave it on the vine a little longer, more hang time until it reaches physiological ripeness at 26° or 27° or even 28° Brix. You still aren't getting a lot of flavor, so you have to start manipulating the wine--micro-oxygenation and lots of oak--to try and get it to taste mature. And you end up with high-alcohol wines." He added, "If we talk about when wine went from its historic place as a mealtime beverage that deeply reflects the soil and climate from whence it comes to killer, jammy monsters that advertise that they will 'melt your panties,' I think you will come to the same conclusion that we did 18 years ago: that the real wines are made by deeply connecting them to their soils and that dry farming is fundamental to that."'
Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=features&content=51150
Copyright © Wines & Vines

 

General advice from a gardener when asked about potting grape plants:

"Grapes have a tap root and need a very deep container."

 

For more detailed (though plain vanilla) discussion on irrigation in viticulture, go to Wikipedia

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Reply by outthere, Apr 27.

Uh, what he said ^

To the contrary though, vines that are drip irrigated tend to have a majority of surface root since they go where the water is. They need more fertilization and soil amending than their dry farmed counterparts and tend to need replanting much much sooner as well.

A majority the old dry farmed vineyards in Sonoma County Valleys are planted to St George rootstock which is known for it's deep reaching roots. In the post-phylloxera era we see Richter 110 used in dry mountainous areas and Millardet et de Grasset 101-14 in the fertile, damp, drip irrigated valley soils. Neither does well in rocky soils though so dry farmed mountain grown vineyards will tend to be planted to Ruggeri 140 which does well in shallow soils. These are all very broad/general examples as there are numerous rootstocks that work well in California but the main components are soil type, pest resistance and water availability.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 27.

"To the contrary though, vines that are drip irrigated tend to have a majority of surface root since they go where the water is."

That's exactly what the Frog's Leap guy was saying. I knew about the St. George, but not the detail you provide on the others. Thanks for that.

Up early again, I see, even on a Sunday morning...  ;-)

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Reply by EMark, Apr 27.

Three very interesting articles, DM.  I have to admit, however, that a lot of it was above me.  

Two comments:

  • The writer of the Advertiser article, Mark Scaramella, has a hilarious style.  Because of it, I wanted to read every word. 
  • The Veedercrest article had one insight that I had never seen discussed--the water requirement that wineries have outside of vine irrigation. "Making wine requires a great deal more water than the wine that is produced – maybe a factor of 10 gallons of water to 1 gallon of wine.

Thanks for posting.

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Reply by gregt, Apr 27.

D – yeah but there are lots of things people have thought for many years that may or may not be strictly accurate. What exactly is it that taproots do? The quotations don't really say so let’s think about it.

First, as mentioned before, the main root mass, no matter where the vines are grown, is going to be in the top layers of the soil. Vines themselves surprisingly don't have a lot of root hairs so they develop a symbiotic relationship with fungi. The vine provides the fungus with carbon, which the fungus can't get on its own, and the fungi, or mycorrhizae, provide the vine with nutrients. The fungi are a huge part of the total root mass of the vine – the mass of "root hairs" that they provide is several orders of magnitude larger than the root hairs of the vine roots themselves.

The nutrients that they look for are in the top layers of the soil, so that's where the great mass of the roots are. There are no studies that I've seen that indicate any great level of micorrhizae at really deep levels.

Look at the size and shape of a taproot compared to the laterals that come out from it and the root hairs that do the water and nutrient exchange. The taproot is thick and almost impermeable, not really made for exchange at the molecular level.

So what's going on?

Well, the nutrients have to be transported with water and many people believe that the tap root is not so much to take up nutrients and water as to store them for later use. In really dry seasons, water evaporation and photosynthesis slow down, sometimes even completely.  But if the plant has access to a reservoir of water, it may get past that dry spell.

People involved in climate change studies are really interested in this. The Amazon is still the largest single area of carbon exchange on earth and there is a dry season in the Amazon. However, studies of trees in the Amazon that have deep taproots came up with some interesting data. Estimates are the storage those roots provide allows an increase of photosynthesis and water evaporation by as much as 40 percent in the dry season. That’s important for taking carbon out of the air, hence the interest from climatologists.

I guess that makes sense when you think about vines. If grape vines came from dry rocky hillsides in Armenia or thereabouts, they’d have to figure out some way of surviving.

As far as vine root growth, the roots pretty much grow where they can. Different cultivars have different characteristics, but those seem to be trumped by the soil structure. If a vine can grow vertically down, it will. If it hits rock or something, it grows in a different direction. That's been born out by many studies, whether in CA, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. Here’s a study. Yeah, I know it’s not for desert conditions but it’s a lot easier to read than some of them.

http://grapesandwine.cals.cornell.edu/cals/grapesandwine/appellation-cornell/issue-12/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=1085654

Now, is water really what has changed styles? Maybe. But maybe it's the fact that so many CA vines were replanted in the 1990s after phylloxera turned out to like some common rootstocks that were then in use. When replanting, different vines and different rootstocks were used, and different planting densities, orientations, etc. Then there's the change in winemaking style as well. If Mr Williams has a problem with high-alc and ripe wines, I think his comments would apply as well to many wines made by people who dry farm. In fact, there are places in Spain, or better yet, Australia, that dry farm vines older than anything in the US, but that make ripe and high-alc wines.

"Historic place as a mealtime beverage" is a completely different topic and I'm not getting into thread drift that far afield, but it merits discussion at some later point.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 27.

Good response, Greg, though I don't agree with your conclusions in every case. Turning into a good thread.

I'm out the door right now and have no time to properly respond. But whether or not 'science' has yet reported something doesn't mean that the knowledge and knowhow are not there. Even anecdotal can be valid, especially if it's a viticulturalist/farmer yanking a grape plant that turns out to have a 40ft taproot burrowing under...

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Reply by gregt, Apr 27.

Actually I agree with that. And some of those roots actually go even farther than 40 feet! Anyhow, I'm likely offline for the next couple of days. Tomorrow I have four tastings and a dinner, then ditto Tuesday, then flying Wed.

And don't think I don't appreciate the old or heritage vines!  One other thing that needs some consideration is the fact that many of those old vineyards were planted with not only different clones of the same grape, but also with different grape varieties. In fact, that may be even more relevant to Mr. Williams. Right now grape growing is almost entirely monoculture - you plant the exact same Pinot Noir clone across your vineyard.

Nowhere on the planet was that ever done in the past. Today, even if there are different grapes in the blend, they're often harvested and vinified separately. Somehow just intuitively it seems wrong. It's one more thing that's weird about the people promoting "natural" wines. OK, you don't do a lot to the juice when you get it into the winery. But you planted a single clone up and down your hills! That's "natural"?

I don't have any science but I just somehow don't like the idea, and prefer the idea of a mix of grapes that the old guys planted. They did it to be sure that they could deal with the vagaries of weather most likely, but it ended up making good wine. Even the guys who made it through Prohibition - BV for example, didn't have DNA research to rely on when planting their vineyards. So when people talk about the old vineyards, I think they should not overlook the fact that those vineyards were planted in ways that would never be done today.

Too bad. Mr. Williams is on to something. I'm just not sure it is as simple as blaming things on irrigation.

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 27.

Enjoyed this discussion quite a bit...the science and machinations in the vineyard is indeed fascinating stuff. It makes logical sense to me that dry farming would result in more complex wine, however this is admittedly something that's been drilled into me. Just as mountain fruit being more complex than valley floor fruit, however the power of the hillside seems a bit more well founded.

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Reply by gregt, Apr 28.

Yeah, hills are interesting all over.

In warm sunny Napa, it's because they're cooler and the soils have eroded so they offer fewer nutrients and you get smaller berries, etc. In Greece, they couldn't grow anything else on the hills except vines and olives. In Germany, they grow vines on the hillsides to capture every last ray of sunshine because it's so cold. In the Loire valley, they can do OK on the flatlands and in Bordeaux, the Medoc as swampland and had no vines at all until the late 1600s when the Dutch drained the swamps, so it's pretty flat. In Pic St Loup, they grow on the hills because it's cooler and too hot down below for their Syrah.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 28.

In places like Paso Robles or the Barossa Valley where it can get well hotter than even Napa's valley floors, you really want hillsides, too.

You kinda skipped past Italy and Spain, Greg, in your travelogue. Definitely on hillsides in the old Yugoslavia, too. How's Hungary?

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Reply by gregt, Apr 29.

Tokaj is in the Zemplén mountains, which abut the Carpathians. They're ancient volcanos. It's all about mountains there.All of the great vineyards are on hills. Eger is a mountain city. It's hard to find flat areas there even if you wanted to. Somló is also on extinct volcanos. Sopron is close to Burgenland in Austria. It's more hilly than mountainous but it's at the foothills of the Alps and again, the best vineyards are on the hills. Hungary overall is basically a bowl-shape - a flat plain surrounded by mountains all around. The cheapest wine comes from that flat plain, but the mountain regions are where all the better vineyards are. At least as far as I know.

And then of course in Argentina, you get better vineyards the higher you go in elevation. The world's highest vineyards are in north Argentina because at sea level it would be like Florida. I haven't been to South Africa so can't say much about it.

Actually, speaking of old vines - some of those areas are kind of interesting. In Argentina, they have a lot of new plantings obviously, but as far as I know, they haven't had a phylloxera problem so they have some pretty old vines. South Africa was isolated for many years as the world boycotted them, so they had vines that were old as well, since they couldn't get better and newer clones. Most of those are probably gone, but who knows. And I believe Australia still has the world's oldest vines. The old Grenache is kind of similar to Zin in CA in that it was used for jug wine or fortified stuff more than fine wine then abandoned or ripped out except for patches that people are now excited to work with. Similar in Spain and S. France. Grenache never really got a lot of respect in the past I guess.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 29.

Oh, man, I got here kind of late!  I agree with the basic science that GregT is talking about BUT there is a difference in dry farmed grapes and irrigated vineyards.  OT is correct that the drip irrigated vines need to be grubbed up sooner.  Grapes, unlike a lot of other things, can survive--thrive, even-- on poor soils by sending down roots very deeply. They do also rely on mycorrhizae as do most other plants, and those need to be nearer to the surface. Some of these newer plantings (and even a few older ones) are practically hydroponic.  Will Bucklin told me of a great example in Napa because no way they were going to risk a down harvest at $1M+ an acre.  (umm, wait for the water rationing, guys.) I think that the water those old roots bring up contains a lot of mineral content missing in shallower-rooted grapes.  That said, none of Rockpile is all that old, but the geology and climate up there are producing killer wines.  Go figure.  (Had a Rockpile Ridge last night and it was plenty good, if my least favorite of the SVDs Clay makes.)

As for old vines, actual old vines are obviously survivors, and GregT is right that they are in a more natural balance usually.  That's also the argument that biodynamicists are making--the plants will optimize themselves given the best circumstances, but really they are claiming that what they do has an effect, so how hands-off is that?  And let's face it, everyone prunes vines, so we don't rely on the plants themselves.

Here's what is interesting to me:  How many mutations does it take before something stops being a new clone and becomes a new variety?  Species we have some rules about, more or less, but it's kind of like dog breeds here.  The vast majority of wine comes from one species, vitis vinifera (and it is vitis, not vitus--finally got GregT on a typo after him giving me a hard time with Ribera v. Ribeira years ago!)--theoretically any of its varieties can be crossed and produce viable offspring.  But with a fast mutating grape like PN, when do those mutations constitute a new variety? 

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Reply by outthere, Apr 29.

"Here's what is interesting to me:  How many mutations does it take before something stops being a new clone and becomes a new variety?  Species we have some rules about, more or less, but it's kind of like dog breeds here.  The vast majority of wine comes from one species, vitis vinifera (and it is vitis, not vitus--finally got GregT on a typo after him giving me a hard time with Ribera v. Ribeira years ago!)--theoretically any of its varieties can be crossed and produce viable offspring.  But with a fast mutating grape like PN, when do those mutations constitute a new variety? "

Uh, how about never. The bud wood DNA will not change regardless of what it is grafted to. The rootstock just controls vigor, pest resistance. The bud wood is what is pruned so that never changes. I could confirm with Carole Meredith since she is the geneticist but I think I am pretty close.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 29.

Different clones do have small mutations, it's what makes them different.  So there is a genetic difference. You take off a cutting and it produces some weird characteristic, like a white Tempranillo, and that stays stable.  The reason is that there has been a genetic mutation in that area.  (See: Mosaic DNA.) For most of us, the only time a mutation happens in a somatic cell, it's bad news: Cancer.  But not always:  I have a friend with mosaic DNA on the side of his head. His hair there has always been white. You decide that the branch with white Tempranillo is cool, so you propagate that bud wood--or the Wente Clone or whatever.  Then you notice as that plant grows that a branch ripens a little earlier, or produces regularly sweeter berries.  So you propagate that--we know this happens all the time with PN, that's what it means to be genetically unstable (except in those rare cases you grow from seed, where the process of mutation is more common, but who does that?) but the changes are pretty subtle.  Still, 777 is not Dijon is not Wente.  Now you start growing that clone away from others--you take it to N. Italy.  More of that mosaicism happens...

According to ampelographers, Pinot blanc and pinot noir are the same grape, but they've gone far enough afield that they are cultivated separately and labeled separately.  Grenache blanc and grenache noir are considered the same grape, but ampelographers are not so sure about ganratxa peluda--same or relative? 

So, actually, over time, canes of the budwood do change via mutation, or their wouldn't be different clones still forming.  It's got nothing to do with the rootstock or anything else--own-rooted vines do it, too. Question stands: When does something cease to be a clone of the same variety and become a variety of its own?

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Reply by outthere, Apr 29.

When it's DNA changes. Sorry I only used 1 sentence. :p

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