What is a Wine Clone?

Question from Georgia: Hi! I just bought a bottle of Cabernet and on the back of the bottle it says it was made of “clone 337”. What does that mean? It sounds wierd.

Reply: Hi, Georgia. Thanks for writing! I don’t get this question too often.

They’re trying to tell you that they used one of the most popular clones of Cabernet for the moment, at least.

A clone is kind of like a variety within a variety. Everything that lives mutates and scientists isolate and then propapagate clones of varieties with desirable characteristics like disease resistance or flavor attributes. The reason it’s considered a clone and not another variety is that the DNA is the same. So, on paper, it’s the same thing but in reality it may look different. 

Clone 337 of Cabernet is a Bordeaux clone that produces small grapes within the cluster. The increased skin to juice ratio ramps up flavor intensity. Many winemakers like to plant more than one clone of a single variety, like Cabernet, to give the wine added complexity.

I hope that helps! Please don’t hesitate to write in with more questions. Cheers!

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