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Phylloxerated vineyard in Yountville, California. Fall 1907.

Phylloxerated vineyard in Yountville, California. Fall 1907.

Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library.

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Show Me The State: Which State Saved The Wine Industry?

About 150 years ago in the vineyards of southern France, winemakers start to notice their vineyards aren’t looking healthy. They rack their brains but can’t figure out what is devouring the crops. Samples are taken, scientific investigations mounted and letters for help are sent out across the globe.

Missourians and Texans tell this story the same way up until that point. But here’s where the versions diverge.

In Missouri, scientist Charles Valentine Riley takes on the mantle of identifying the pest that is devastating the wine industry. In Texas, horticulturalist Thomas Volney Munson cross breeds different varietal species that can thrive across the Atlantic.

Both scientists do tremendous work to solve the problem of the phylloxera aphid and to save the art of winemaking.

So which state can actually take credit for saving the wine industry?

Listen to the full episode.

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