Control the grapes

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ARS scientists recently revealed that they think they are closer to improving grape hardiness in North America.

Like certain trees and shrubs, grapevines shed their leaves in the fall. Scientists have been looking for the genes that control the process in the hope that they can help breeders identify cold-tolerant traits for establishing new grape varieties.

Geneticists at an ARS unit established at Cornell University’s agricultural station along with others at the University of Minnesota and South Dakota State have been studying the wild North American species Vitis riparia because of its unusual trait to start shedding in late August in New York, when daylight drops below 13 hours daily while other vines retain their greenery.

By crossing Vits riparia with the French hybrid species variety Seyval, which is insensitive to day length, the researchers learned that when grown in a greenhouse a chromosome of the crossed vine guides the growth cycle. But when grown in the field, the crossed grapevine seems to react to multiple functions that include day length, sunshine, rain, and temperature.

If scientists can map what makes grapevines cease to develop and go dormant, they believe they may be able to control the activity so that North American vineyards can benefit from extended grapevine life cycles. That would be good.

Control the state

After Repeal of Prohibition in 1933, states were given the freedom to regulate their commercial wine industries. Some states decided not only to regulate commercial wine traffic but also to control its wholesaling and retailing.

Pennsylvania is one of about 18 so-called Control States. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) not only makes the rules, it also buys wines from producers and importers and it sells wine to consumers. Many residents of the state think it’s a horrible system that limits choices, and the Finger Lakes region certainly benefits as many Pennsylvanians come here to buy what they cannot get in their state.

It appears the PLCB is ready to relinquish a piece of its grip and give the private company, Simple Brands, Conshohocken, Pa., the chance to provide kiosks where wine can be dispensed. Yep—dispensed.

In a pilot review, kiosk wine dispensers will be placed in up to 100 grocery stores throughout the state. To check for age and identity, a consumer must insert a driver’s license. The picture on the license is matched with a video image of the consumer taken by the kiosk.

The kiosk also has a built-in breath sensor that supposedly takes an accurate blood alcohol reading instantly, without the consumer doing anything more than breathing normally. Right.

Like Big Brother, PLCB workers monitor the kiosk transaction from a remote location somewhere, and they lock out anyone the kiosk claims is underage or drunk.

The Big Brother aspect, the fact that the kiosk takes only credit cards (something that many Americans have lately learned to shed) and that its choices can’t be much in that little vending machine, make this one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard, and all in an attempt to maintain CONTROL.

If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
October 2009. All rights reserved.

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