Thank you everyone for your responses last week on Burgundy versus Bordeaux, there's a lot of great information, so take a look if you missed it!
This week: Clones
What are clones and what benefit(s) can they provide to winemakers and vineyard managers?
A clone is a vine that is identical to its parent, and it is advantageous because it allows the grower/winemaker to better predict the characteristics of a vine. If you have ever had the chance to look at a vine catalogue, you will see a number of clones for each variety in the catalogue, anywhere from a few entries to page and pages (Riesling, for example, has a wide range of clones available). This will allow the grower to select a clone best suited to his or her specific growing needs. A grower can select a clone that has budbreak, time of ripening, cluster formation, size, compactness, berry size, yield, and more -- all to best match the vine with the climate, soil, and other aspects unique to the vineyard.
I mentioned Riesling specifically, the winery I work for selected a clone to work with our specific needs in Ontario. A few examples of what we looked for--a vine that would do well in a sandy loam soil with budbreak that occurs later in March and ripening that occurs late summer to early fall. Powdery mildew is a threat, so we select vines with a more open cluster to better prevent that...and so on.