ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Do vintners need to be concerned with cross-pollination between grape varieties?

—Mark W., Decatur, Ala.

Dear Mark,

Sure, we can talk about the sex life of grapevines! Grapevines are hermaphrodites that self-pollinate—the flower that will eventually become a grape pollinates itself. No bees (or birds) necessary. I hope that’s not TMI.

Besides just avoiding cross-pollination, hermaphroditic grapevines are more consistent growers, which is one less headache-inducing variable for viticulturists. If you wanted to see more traditional reproduction among grapes, you can plant a vine by seed, turn on some Barry White and let things take their course. Some really wonderful things have happened that way, like Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, and Pinotage, (Pinot Noir and Cinsault).

—Dr. Vinny

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