If you believe the hype of many American wineries, you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to sample grand cru pinot noir—thanks to "suitcase clones": American wines that supposedly had their start as smuggled cuttings from the mother country. Though “such stories may excite gullible consumers,” wine columnist Eric Asimov asserts in the New York Times that a vine’s origin is “at best meaningless."
Consumers are desperate to “gain some sense of control over where their wine dollars are going,” writes Asimov, hence the fascination with grape clones. “But even well-informed wine drinkers have a difficult time making sense of many of the technical details of winemaking." Clones, in fact, may do more harm than good. An over-reliance on them is troubling to some experts, rendering many California wines “boring.”