Penfolds has stunned the drinks world by announcing that it is planning to plant the first vineyard on Mars.
Sceptics described it as ‘a bigger gamble than attempting to sell your entire production in China’ but the company’s shares leapt at the announcement, with the city describing it as ‘the first good news to come out of Treasury for over 12 months’.
Mars or Margs?
‘The early findings from the Perseverance look promising, with free draining soil, very low vigour and no disease pressure,’ said Penfolds’ head of winification, Max Sherbet. ‘We reckon it should be bang on for Cabernet.’
With moderate summer daytime temperatures of 25-30 degrees Centigrade, Penfolds are hopeful that Mars could be a cheaper source of cool-climate Bordeaux reds than Margaret River – and not that much further away from civilisation.
And with night-time temperatures of around -120C Sherbet said his winemaking team was ‘excited’ by the idea of working with grapes that have some natural acidity for once.
Red planet or Riverland?
Scientists have warned that Mars’ inhospitable conditions – radiation, toxic salts and the high percentage of Carbon Dioxide in the air – might cause problems for both vines and vineyard workers. But Sherbet was confident the difficulties could be overcome.
‘To be honest, it’s not much more inhospitable than most of Australia,’ he told Fake Booze. ‘If it’s possible to grow grapes in the Riverland we can probably make a decent go of the red planet.
‘And anyone who’s worked a vintage in Coonawarra should have no problems with a lack of atmosphere.’
Penfolds’ CEO, Adelaide Hills, said that the Mars expansion was simply a logical extension of the company’s current strategy of making wine wherever and however it damn well likes.
‘We did wine and baijiu, we did Champagne, and we’re going to mix Californian and Australian,’ she told Fake Booze. ‘So frankly this is pretty tame by comparison.’
Analysts, however, were concerned that the company might have bitten off more than it can chew.
‘I really hope that this has been discussed long and hard in the Treasury boardroom,’ said strategic consultant Anna Lyst. ‘Making a go of a project somewhere that is bereft of intelligent life is going to be a huge ask.
‘And Mars isn’t up to much either.’