Wine Grapes: Uncovering Origin and Family Ties
WSG Member Price: $175.50Includes all study materials, live lectures and recorded webinars
6 live lectures with world-renowned grape geneticist, Dr. José Vouillamoz (45 minutes each)
Mondays September 11, 18, 25 and October 2, 9 & 16 2023 at 12:00 noon EDT
All sessions are recorded and available for replay viewing
Students can join anytime during the course and catch up with the recorded lectures
Each 90-minute live lecture starts at 12:00 noon EDT/6 pm CET and are recorded for on-demand replay.
“The spiral in a snail's shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it's also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt
DNA holds the key to grape origin and Swiss geneticist, José Vouillamoz, has been unlocking those mysteries for a long time now. His seminal work has been chronicled in Wine Grapes, co-authored by Jancis Robinson and published in 2012. Much more has been gleaned from those strands of deoxyribonucleic acid since then. Join us on a six-part journey as we unravel the ancestry of Sangiovese, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Grüner Veltliner, Zinfandel (and more!) through DNA fingerprinting. Yes! Even grapevines have a family tree!
Grape origin stories are the stuff of legend—colorful, dramatic, and very often…false. Today, science has found a way to separate fact from fiction!
Just as with humans, DNA serves as the blueprint of the grapevine. It defines its core characteristics and profile, in other words: everything that makes a single grape variety unique. Join Dr. José Vouillamoz for Wine Scholar Guild's six-part course that explains how a variety’s genetic code can be analyzed using “fingerprinting” techniques to identify grape family relationships and ancestry. By scrutinizing a vine’s DNA, researchers can unveil a living history, intertwined with culture and tradition. DNA profiling that has been applied to many of today's most common varieties and has given us insight into the relationships of these sometimes complicated family relationships.
Varietal labelling of wines, popularized in new-world countries in the mid 20th century, made many varieties household names. How much what do we really know about the most common varieties? Who are their "parents" and where did they originate? This course will dive into not only the process of DNA profiling of wine grapes, but will also turn to specific examples of the most prolific progenitors and how they spread across the world.
Alongside José Vouillamoz, one of the world's leading authorities on the origin and parentage of grape varieties, you will examine these subjects and many more in a focused, concise, comprehensive, and concentrated six-week framework. This is blockbuster myth-busting at its very best. If you are a wine professional or serious enthusiast, this course is for you!
PARTICIPANTS WILL LEARN:
- Key terminology
- What is a grape variety?
- Grape identification
- Pedigree reconstruction
- General concepts of DNA profiling - how does it work?
- Six live lectures with your instructor (recorded for on-demand viewing)
- Preparatory curriculum including reading assignments
- Access to the instructor Q&A forum for a full year
- Access to the recordings of the lectures for a full year
WHO SHOULD ENROLL?
The curriculum has been built specifically by WSG and Dr. Vouillamoz for students of wine, educators, writers, serious enthusiasts, and wine trade professionals who seek a deeper understanding of traits and family relations of today's most common varieties.
DETAILED COURSE SCHEDULE
Lecture 1: DNA Profiling: Finding Grape Fingerprints
September 11, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
Grape origin stories are the stuff of legend—colorful, dramatic, and very often…false. Today, science has finally found a way to separate fact from fiction!
Just as with humans, DNA serves as the blueprint of the grapevine. It defines its core characteristics—everything that makes a single grape variety unique. In this webinar, Dr. José Vouillamoz explains how a variety’s genetic code can be analyzed using “fingerprinting” techniques to identify grape family relationships and ancestry. By scrutinizing a vine’s DNA, researchers can unveil a living history. This is blockbuster myth-busting at its very best
- What is a grape variety?
- DNA profiling – how does it work?
- Grape Identification
- Pedigree Reconstruction
Lecture 2: The Powerful Potentates of the Grape World: Noiriens and Carmenets
September 18, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
DNA is destiny. While the genetic codes of many grape varieties relegate them to the shallow end of the gene pool, Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir have distinguished themselves as a cut above. Prolifically promiscuous, they have passed on their genetic material to many of the grapevines in commercial production today. Find out what sets these two superstars apart from the rest and how they have become “founder varieties”.
- “Pinot” is not a family!
- Gouais, the unsung hero
- The origin of Cabernet Sauvignon
- The surprising parentage of Merlot
Lecture 3: Fabulous Fact-Finding: Syrah, Viognier and Nebbiolo
September 25, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
Syrah, Viognier, and Nebbiolo are three very different grapes crafting very different wines. Yet, they share a secret link. In this webinar, Dr. José Vouillamoz will unravel their complex family tree—one that includes Pinot and other surprising offspring. Just watch the mystery unfold! (Popcorn optional)
- The parentage of Syrah
- How is Syrah related to Pinot?
- The origin of Viognier
- The Nebbiolo family
Lecture 4: Genetic Super-Sleuthing: Sangiovese, Garnacha and Tempranillo
October 2, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
More “grape” stories! The drama continues! Digging deeper into genetic profiles, we will learn about the parentage and ‘birthplace’ of Sangiovese, Garnacha, and Tempranillo. Did location, mutation, or transportation introduce the grapes to new environments, or is there confusion about different grapes cultivated by similar names? Finally… answers!
- The disputed parentage of Sangiovese
- Is Garnacha from Spain or Sardegna?
- The obscure origin of Tempranillo
Lecture 5: Austria and the Missing Link: Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, St-Laurent. Grüner Veltliner
October 9, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
Gouais Blanc does it again, this time playing an important role in Austria’s indigenous and lab-created varieties! As the Gouais progenies continue to expand their roots, We’ve picked up the Austrian branch of the family tree!
- Is Blaufränkisch really Austrian?
- The creation of Friedrich (Fritz) Zweigelt
- Is St-Laurent related to Pinot?
- Grüner Veltliner - the unbelievable missing link!
Lecture 6. ZinQuest: From Tribidrag to Zinfandel
October 18, 2023 at 12 noon EDT
The story of Zinfandel is a high-drama grape odyssey rooted in history but uncovered in the 21st century. Tribidrag/Primitivo/Zinfandel is the same (but different!) grape in Croatia, Italy, and California. Which one is its birthplace? By piecing together DNA profiles and history, we will uncover the truth and put the saga to rest.
- What's in a name?
- The quest for Zinfandel in Dalmatia
- The true origins of Zinfandel
- The complete pedigree of Tribidrag
ABOUT JOSÉ VOUILLAMOZ
Dr José Vouillamoz is a Swiss grape geneticist of international fame and one of the world's leading authorities on the origin and parentage of grape varieties through DNA profiling. He trained with Professor Carole Meredith at the University of California at Davis (USA) and co-authored (with Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW) the multi-award winning book Wine Grapes (Allen Lane, 2012), the ultimate reference on all the grape varieties that are cultivated in the world. In 2019, Wine Grapes was published in Japanese. In 2017, he published the reference book Cépages Suisses - Histoires et Origines that was a huge national success, which was later translated into German and English. Dr Vouillamoz is also author and co-author of several scientific papers and grape books, such as the Oxford Companion to Wine and the World Atlas of Wine. Dr Vouillamoz is an independent wine expert, wine writer, wine educator and lecturer, as well as a member of the Académie Internationale du Vin, the Académie du Vin de Bordeaux (only Swiss member), the Mémoire des Vins Suisses and the Circle of Wine Writers. Since 2019, he is the deputy director of DIVO, the most important and ancient wine club in Switzerland.
Other notable accomplishments:
- PhD in Plant Genetics – 2 post docs
- Identified the parents of Sangiovese in 2004
- Discovered the family relationship between Pinot and Syrah in 2006
- Author – Swiss Grapes: History and Origin (English in 2019)