An army of clones has invaded the Pacific Northwest! Well, not exactly. Oregon Pinot Noir wines use clone plants. Does that mean Pinot Noir clones were grown in a vat? Are they the subject of a mad experiment? No. All a clone means in this sense is that it's propagated from one parent plant. It's not the result of a cross-pollination between multiple plants.
Attack of the Clones?
Pinot Noir clones are used the world over. Did you know that Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris all come from the same grape? Then how do they taste so wildly different? How is one a red wine and the other two are white wines? The grapes involved are simply mutations of the same variety.
There are actually more than 1,000 different clones of Pinot. In each case, a particular plant's grapes are desired to continue making a variety of wine. Cross-pollination would change inherent properties in the grape, so instead the original plant is simply propagated.
Each different clone that's grown creates different qualities in its wine. Many require different growing environments. For instance, Pinot Noir is known as a temperamental grape that's difficult to grow.
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Diversity is important – it creates a healthier environment. This is why many vineyards maintain several different clones of a particular grape and blend various clones together. They're still blending various Pinot Noir grapes together to make a Pinot Noir, so it's not the same as a blend that mixes entirely different kinds of wine.
Oregon Pinot Noir was founded on Pommard, Wadenswil, and clones that originally come from the U.S. A number of Dijon clones later came over. This blend of different Pinot Noir clones from different origins has enabled Oregon vineyards to produce luscious, bold, floral Pinot Noirs that capture the imagination and delight the palate.