Grapegrowers and winemakers are beginning to invest in new grape varieties that promise resistance to Pierce’s disease. The bacterium, spread by glassy-winged sharpshooters, is difficult to prevent without insecticides.

A UC researcher developed the five varieties in 2020 and has been holding demonstration days at the Ojai vineyard that served as a test plot. Crossbreeding the grapes led to a new wine varietal along with new challenges in gaining consumer acceptance, according to UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The grapes were bred using varieties in northern Mexico that are naturally resistant to Pierce's disease and have relatively neutral flavor characteristics. 

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In a blog post by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ojai Vineyard owner Adam Tolmach said the grape varieties were “worthy and special.”

“People expect hybrids not to be good,” he said. “They taste different, but they are an example of what exist beyond cabernet and chardonnay. People are interested in the obscure and environmentally more sound.”

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