Pinotage...in...space: Greg Olsen, vintner, entrepreneur and founder of the companies Epitaxx and Sensors Unlimited, has shelled out $20 million to become the world's third space tourist. He blasted off from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz rocket last week and has now joined the crew on the International Space Station (ISS). What did he bring on his journey? Of all things, according to South African news reports, cuttings of Pinotage rootstock. Olsen, who owns La Vinette vineyard near Paarl, is a fan of the South African variety and planned to plant the cuttings in a section of the station used for experiments. The good news is that he doesn't have to worry about phylloxera. The bad news is that Olsen will only be in orbit for eight days, so he'll be gone long before we know if the ISS astronauts are able to successfully grow the vines and possibly even grapes. If we don't hear from them for a while, that might be a signal that they figured out the fermentation process. "Mission Control to ISS...Hello?"
You may think you've heard it all when it comes to grapegrowing methods--sustainable, organic, biodynamic--but how about "audiodynamic" farming? In short, while the vines are out soaking up the sun, they're also being exposed to classical music--like a sonic fertilizer. Pioneering this new, cultured approach to grapegrowing is Italian Carlo Cignozzi, owner of Il Paradiso di Frassina in Brunello di Montalcino. In 2000, he installed loudspeakers around his estate's 8 acres of vineyards, and he claims the vines have responded favorably, maturing more quickly and healthily. The music also chases off grape-gobbling wild boar and birds. "When people ask me what's in my wine," says Cignozzi, "I tell them it's 60 percent Mozart, 20 percent Vivaldi and 20 percent other composers." The project has attracted the attention of the University of Florence, which recently sent a team of researchers to set up a controlled experiment to test the scientific basis of Cignozzi's claims; the results should be published within a year. But what do the neighbors think? "They're a Sardinian family," says Cignozzi, "so every Sunday, I treat them, together with the vines, to a compilation of Sardinian music. In that way, everyone's happy!"
There's been talk in recent years about England becoming a more prominent producer of wine, but Kent, on the southeastern coast, may soon be seeing a lot more of it than expected. The Daily Telegraph reports that in the center of Dartford is a grapevine planted 26 years ago by local resident Les Stringer. Now 80, Stringer cared for the vine for several years--so attentively, the paper says, that he had to choose between it and his wife. (He chose the vine, possibly because it didn't nag him.) The vine is now managed by the town and was trellised into a shady walkway, but this year insufficient pruning and above-average temperatures led the vine to yield an estimated load of 1 ton of fruit. Now the town is asking residents to pick the grapes at their leisure and make their own wine from it. Generous an offer as that may be, Unfiltered is wondering just how one vine carrying an entire ton of grapes can produce a wine with any kind of recognizable flavors. Then again, such a wine may match perfectly with traditional English cuisine.
|Tong dished up food instead of New York's local news.|
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