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Mean,Wine,Wine Business

Viticulture 101: Wine grapes are asexual ~ and Slide Ridge

Now that I’ve got your attention: yes, it’s true that wine grapes are asexual… Thankfully bees have plenty of other plants to pollinate, even if they don’t have to pollinate wine grapes.

WineMaker Magazine: Most cultivated grapes have “perfect flowers,” with a normal ovary and pistil and fully developed, upright anthers. (In other words, they are both male and female.) This means that cultivated grapes are mostly able to set fruit by self-fertilization, with a few exceptions. Some older varieties have female flowers, but had such good qualities that they were not discarded when perfect-flowered types came along, and must be planted near perfect-flowered types to set a crop.

I love bees and grow lots of herbs and flowers, so they’re encouraged to visit my garden. For years scientists have been stymied about what’s causing entire bee populations to completely disappear. For me, it’s so elementary. The pesticides that Americans are using on plants, to have them be really pretty and prolific, are lethal. (Have you ever read the back label of any pesticide?) Then, there’s the growth enhancements that we’re giving to plants, to raise more foods. We want our tomatoes to  grow and be “more than they can be, ” like US Marines.

This is all really flawed thinking:

  • We know that steroids aren’t good, and express disgust when we find out that an athlete “was cheating.” There are no real “Miracles” to growing fruits and vegetables, except what mother nature provides…
  • Spaying our plants with pesticides means that those toxins are now all over the plant, and along comes a tiny bee to pollinate it… just doing its job. It brings that poison back to the hive. One plus one equals zero in this case.
  • How about, instead of giving farmers subsidies to NOT plant that year, we stop trying to grow bigger and better in one place, while shutting down another. Instead, we let all farmers plant both crops, and use green bin materials as mulch/fertilizer… Like our grandparents and great grandparents did. We’ll have the same amount of food this way, and not have to spend $$ to stop some farmers from growing that season. Win-win, it appears…

I just had to laugh out loud, sorta, when I read Scientists discover pesticides are reason behind bee kill-off.

NEWS FLASH: Science finally found the killer! (Pesticide… “cide” in Latin means ” to kill”). Pesticides were approved by our FDA, then they’re used for years until the consequences begin to manifest. So, scientists are then called in to do a study about “What’s happening to the bee population?” This, of course, takes years to do, while more bees are dying… And scientists finally conclude that the “cide” is working. (When will they finally link cancers to pesticides, too, I wonder. Starting with the bees, is a beginning.)

And, guess what? It’s working against nature, and without nature humanity will disappear… after we’ve all eaten each other, because nothing else is left. (I should write a scifi novel.)

I’m not just growing fruits and vegetables. I’m also growing my neighborhood bee, butterfly, dragonfly, moth, and hummingbird population, while a few predators (a preying mantis and a few tree frogs) have also moved in to keep some balance. I’ve got insects in my garden that I’ve never before seen, because this year I made a concerted effort to get as many bees into my garden as possible. It’s worked beautifully… watching more bees arrive as the season’s progressed. Right now, it’s buzzing along.

Slide Ridge

[These Slide Ridge images of nature and the product shot are from the Slide Ridge Website.]

So, when I’m asked to taste Slide Ridge‘s Honey Wine (a.k.a. mead), I could hardly wait for the package to arrive. Not only was I sent a bottle of Slide Ridge CaCysir, Batch #1, Bottle #226, but the package also contained two other honey products:

  1. A jar of Slide Ridge Raw Honey (I eat a teaspoon of local honey a day as an allergy remedy, which really works)
  2. A jar of Slide Ridge Honey Wine Vinegar (which totally rocks as a sweet and sour complement to foods I’m eating)

Karma for the season, sent from the Utah gods…

Mead… what an interesting beverage, that’s a traditional fermentation of a honey and water solution.

For Slide Ridge, each vintage is “unique to the season.” This wine is the most fascinating one I’ve tasted in a very long time. I have no other mead references, so I can’t even compare it to anything else. Add to that fact that Slide Ridge has a very different blend: 75.32 percent apples, 23.79 percent honey, and .89 percent grapes, this is one uniquely intense beverage. A spicy apple, citrusy sweet beverage, with an alcohol level of 13.65 percent, just leave it to Utah residents to be so exact with the alcohol content

(said she, after years of watching the California winemaking scene and the fudge that’s also being made here, if you know what I mean).

This wine is very spicy and something that would work really well for the upcoming holidays. It’s not a sipping by the pool kind of wine; rather, it’s a complementary wine for something fun to eat. Let your imagination run as wild as the bees with this one. It’s definitely the treat I was anticipating, and delighted to have shared products from my favorite insects (next to butterflies). I see this dripped all over yogurt or ice cream… A touch of it added to my whipping cream, or drizzle a bit of it on my Mother’s Pecan Pie.

Their honey is drippingly delicious… with a big OMG from me… I’ve been tasting a lot of it lately, and so my palate is becoming localized to my neighborhood. A taste of Utah was so pure and clean I could see the blue skies and white topped mountains from its purity.

As for the Honey Wine Vinegar, once I tasted it, I put a nix on anyone else having any for the next couple of weeks. I’m waiting for my sister to arrive. Merry’s an RN and certified nutritionist, now living in Pennsylvania. She also graduated from New York Restaurant School, having studied under Giuliano Bugialli. This woman has an excellent palate, and is going to love this Honey Wine Vinegar. I’ve tried it on a small salad and thought I had gone to culinary heaven.

It’s been a really interesting gardening season for me this year, as I consciously brought plants to my immediate environment that would attract bees. Little did I know it would also bring so much honey to me, in so many ways that honey can (and is) used, also.

Sweet!

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2 Responses to “Viticulture 101: Wine grapes are asexual ~ and Slide Ridge”

  1. Matt says:

    I wouldn’t say that grapes are asexual, they would be more closely defined as hermaphrodites (black corinth, is probably the closest to asexual, as it has mostly male flowers, and very tiny underdeveloped ovaries that do not normally even set a seed, but they do produce pollen, so even in this case, they are sexual). Asexual would be something like bacteria that (mostly) form by division. The fruits of the grape vines are produced through a sexual way, (gamet formation and recombination), although modern propagation techniques have removed the sexual part of grapevine reproduction (except for breeders like M. Matthews et al, and a select others)

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Matt.

    Now, we got to get *The University Course Handbook* to become more specific, too… What was used in my enology course at Santa Rosa Junior College. The 4-unit course is always taught by a local winemaker… I’m surprised this didn’t come up, and was taught as asexual…

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