I don’t want to bring anybody down, but climate change is affecting our ability to grow grapes (amongothercrops). And while we tend to bristle at the idea of genetically modified organisms, we should understand that warmer climates bring different fungal, mold, and pest pressures on agriculture, as well as changes to ripening schedules, and if we’re to continue to thrive as a species, we should keep an open mind.
Hybrid grapes already exist for these reasons. What are they? To make a very long story way too short, there are two main species of grapes, vitis vinifera (“wine-bearing”) and vitis labrusca (“wild”). Vinifera grapes are familiar to you, and include sangiovese, riesling, chardonnay, and all the other ones we know and love. Labrusca grapes, like catawba, concord, and muscadine, which are tasty for eating as table grapes, are native to North America and thrive in all our climates. While some of our climates can support the vinifera varieties’ very needy needs, others simply can’t. If we hybridize the two species, we can create vinifera-like vines that can thrive in labrusca-like climate zones.
Scientists at universities like UC Davis and Cornell have been working on these projects for decades, and we’ve been making wine from them for almost as long, but they have struggled to gain acceptance among wine enthusiasts because snobbery. We here at KCW have embraced them, and here are a few you can try.