In its bid to produce a world-beating wine, China has looked to the lush foothills of the Tibetan plateau, the sun-scorched Gobi desert, and the rocky slopes of Ningxia province.
Now, Chinese vintners have a new destination in their sights: outer space.
When China’s newest space lab, Tiangong-2, blasted off last week its cargo reportedly included a selection of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir vines.
“Chinese scientists hope that growing wine in space will trigger mutations in the vines that may make them more suitable for the harsh climate in some of the China’s emerging vineyard regions,” reported DecanterChina.com, a bilingual website about the local wine industry.
Freezing temperatures and unfavourable soil are among the most serious challenges facing wine producers in places such as Ningxia, an impoverished region at the heart of China’s nascent wine industry with punishing -25C winters.
Decanter said researchers hoped exposure to “space radiation” might trigger genetic changes in the vines that would help them “evolve new resistance to coldness, drought and viruses”.
The website said the vines were sourced from a nursery near Ningxia’s Helan mountain, a region local politicians tout as China’s Bordeaux.
After returning to earth the samples will undergo tests and be compared to other vines in order to find the most “suitable mutation”.
Via: The Guardian