Wine-Makers Need New Grape Varieties to Boost Production

Environmental troubles are plaguing all parts of the world-and wine making is no exception. With many disease-ridden varieties of grapes to contend with each growing season, it’s growing increasingly difficult to meet consumer demand. Production relies almost solely on the ability to grow healthy grapes, in various strains. These issues are having a major impact on current and future growing seasons. Cultivators are currently scrambling to come up with new disease-free variations to allow the fermentation process to continue on schedule each year. Current trends threaten to shut down production in some vineyards and pose a threat to crops world wide.

Powdery mildew, which is prominent in grapes, originated in North America. The commonality of this and other fungi have resulted in the need to saturate crops of grapes with fungicide in an attempt to save them. Issues have progressed so severely that more fungicide is used in vineyards than any other agricultural field in the United States. One solution to these outbreaks is the creation of new genetic varieties of grapes. New, fungus resistant grapes would allow wine production to continue uninterrupted, keeping consumers world wide happy. The cost of creating these new varieties of grapes can be vast, making it difficult to achieve.

One way to lower cost is to isolate the markers that cause the crops to succumb to the fungus. These DNA markers, once isolated, can more easily be removed when creating new types of grapes. This process, which can take time, might be the only hope for the wine industry. Time is of the essence for vineyards, because viable fruits take several years to develop once planted. This window of opportunity can create major long-term issues in vineyards around the world, if not seized. With the future of grapes in the hands of researchers and scientists, there is little the average connoisseur can do to speed up the process.

With much needed data successfully compiled from more than 1,000 vine samples, researchers have already mapped grape genomes for many varieties. These genomes make it possible for them to find the link and isolate the problem that is destroying the crops. Since the future of wine making is at stake, all eyes are on the researchers to save the grapes of tomorrow. With technology on their side, it’s conceivable that in a few short years, the world will be able to taste the fruits of their labor.