Wine Spectator thinks this is a great idea. And if you disagree, you're just a loudmouth in a mob.
This is so extreme, right wing even for the Tea Party, that you might think I'm making it up, or it's a new David Cronenberg movie.
A post that ran yesterday on Wine Spectator by Mitch Frank makes this argument: some unknown wine disease might one day threaten grapevines, and therefore we better start genetically modifying grapevines to prepare for it.
Here's one Spectator pro-GMO argument:
"Would GMO vines be vastly different than the vines we have produced by spending centuries selecting our favorite vines, cutting off branches and propagating them? Man has fundamentally shaped the evolution of the Vitis vinifera we treasure today."
To answer the question: Yes, vines with human and insect DNA spliced into them would be very different from Vitis vinifera vines.
|"OK, hand me the grapevine"|
How would Cabernet Franc naturally cross with cockroach DNA?
Maybe that's unfair: maybe I should choose a better-tasting insect. OK, Cabernet Franc and Australian green-bottomed ants. Would the delicious citrusy flavor of the ants' formic acid enhance the final product? Wine Spectator says, "Notes of blackberry, tobacco leaf and chitin. 91 points."
Another Spectator excerpt:
"What if a GMO vine saved wine from extinction? Last year, scientists crafted a hybrid gene from human and insect DNA that appears to help grapevines fight off Pierce's disease, which killed many California vineyards in the mid-1990s."This is a straw man argument that leaps from a reasonable question to a completely unrelated example.
I'll agree with Wine Spectator on its conclusion that IF a modern-day phylloxera emerged AND nothing else worked -- NOTHING else worked -- than GMOs could be an option. If a pest emerged that threatened to wipe out wine as we know it, we would have to consider something as drastic as grafting Vitis vinifera onto American rootstock was in the 1870s.
But Pierce's disease is a bad example. I'm sorry Ojai Vineyard's Adam Tolmach lost a vineyard to it; I love his wines. Temecula was wiped out by it; that's awful. But this is not all the wine in the world.
Texas is a hotspot for Pierce's disease, and growers there have lost many vineyards. The insect carriers of Pierce's disease thrive near creeks. In Texas they have spent plenty of time and money on researching Pierce's disease, and the most effective solution so far has been, don't plant vineyards beside creeks.
There are spots of Pierce's disease in Napa and Sonoma Counties even now. The state of California is taking it very seriously. But wine as we know it does not appear to be at risk.
|Yes, I want to be in your wine!|
Wine Spectator is making a very Tea Party argument: the rights of the individual outweigh the concerns of society. And screw our descendants: the Earth is ours to exploit.
Wine Spectator is on a "do whatever you must to ensure that our Cabernet is ripe enough" kick lately; two months ago it ran a blog post arguing that the law should be changed to allow California winemakers to add sugar to their wines.
I'd rather see that relatively minor change than a Kafka-esque metamorphosis. Monstrous vermin -- and lively Grenache!
What if one grower can only succeed with a Cockroach/Chardonnay hybrid on his creekside property? Does it matter if Manroach Blanc pollen is released into the wild?
Fortunately, compared to other crops, it doesn't matter as much. Almost all grapevines today are grafted. The Manroach Blanc vines could hopefully be contained to a small area. Hopefully.
Still, as Tolmach said, "If consumers have the choice, they're not gonna buy Frankenwine."
That's because consumers have greater perspective than Wine Spectator. Ripeness isn't everything, though to the Spectator, it's the only thing.