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We have all heard of mutants. Maybe some of us are more familiar with mutants like Wolverine, Storm, or Magneto that live within the Marvel universe, but there are mutants in the world of wine also. Mutations occur naturally. By definition, a mutation is the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.
Some mutations are bad, and typically Mother Nature rules them out over time. Other mutations give the plant some sort of benefit (at least to the humans who are consuming them.) In the case of grape varieties, a mutation that gives the vine a specific trait that a grower wants to reproduce. This can include resistance to disease or an increase in fruit quality. Once the mutation is identified by the grower, it can then be propagated.
Propagation is when the grower takes a portion of the plant, known as a cutting, with the desired characteristics and grafts it onto a different root. Since it is made from another plant, the genes are the same and is then called a clone. In the video below, Michael Budd, winemaker and co-owner of Dracaena Wines, demonstrates the visual differences between two of the clones used to produce our Cabernet Franc.
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