Grapes on Mars? Georgia winemakers aiming high

File: Exports of mid-range French wines have dropped due to tariffs imposed by the United States in October over disputed aircraft subsidies.

File: Exports of mid-range French wines have dropped due to tariffs imposed by the United States in October over disputed aircraft subsidies.

AFP

GEORGIA - Georgia is immensely proud of its ancient wine-making tradition, claiming to have been the first nation to make wine. Now it wants to be the first to grow grapes on Mars.

Nestling between the Great Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, Georgia has a mild climate that is perfect for vineyards and has developed a thriving wine tourism industry.  

READ: Bring your own wine movement hit SA shores

Now Nikoloz Doborjginidze has co-founded a project to develop grape varieties that can be grown on Mars.

"Georgians were first winemakers on Earth and now we hope to pioneer viticulture on the planet next door," he told AFP.

After NASA called for the public to contribute ideas for a "sustained human presence" on the Red Planet, a group of Georgian researchers and entrepreneurs got together to propel the country's winemaking onto an interplanetary level.

Their project is called IX Millennium -- a reference to Georgia's long history of wine-making.

Since archaeologists found traces of wine residue in ancient clay vessels, the country has boasted that it has been making wine for 8,000 years -- longer than any other nation.

READ: SA Wine Index announces SA's Top 10 wines

IX Millennium is managed by a consortium set up by the Georgian Space Research Agency, Tbilisi's Business and Technology University, the National Museum and a company called Space Farms.

While it might seem like the stuff of science fiction, the idea of humans quaffing wine on the fourth planet from the Sun is coming closer to reality.

NASA hopes to launch a manned mission to Mars within 25 years, while billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX company has set a goal of outstripping the US space agency by a decade.

Source
AFP