The fine folks over at the Trellis Alliance have released a new series of lectures from the June Grapevine Clean Plant Workshop. They are using a Macromedia product called Breeze that allows you to view the slide, the lecturer and to hear the audio all on the same page. It is very cool tech and makes viewing the lectures almost as good as being there.
The most accessible presentation for a general audience is the talk on Ampelography by Andy Walker. In it he talks about how scientists as well as nurserymen and women go about identifying cultivars (vine varieties) and also gives an overview of the “microsatellite” or DNA identification methods now in use to do the same.
Interestingly, the learned folk at Davis are still unable to genetically identify clonal variations among a variety. Currently DNA is only useful for identifying varieties in the broadest sense. For example, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris, since they are all the same variety, will be indistinguishable from each other using the current techniques. DNA chains are complex and the identifying markers are so randomly distributed that DNA ID becomes impractical.
You can check out the presentation yourself here. Dr. Walker has a winning style and is a pleasure to watch, but you need to be a pretty uber wine geek to sit through much past the first half. Still it is nice to know that the information is out there for the taking – and free! – if you want it.