Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Important new links between American grapes and European grapes

Lenoir (sometimes called "Black Spanish") is a grape grown in South Texas, where it has excellent disease resistance and makes good red port wine. But DNA analysis reveals it is the same grape as "Jacquez Madeira," an old hybrid grape with both European and American roots.

Herbemont (named for an important early American grape breeder) is a white grape that also derived from Jacquez Madeira, and also makes a (white) Madeira-like wine in the SE United States.

Jacquez Madeira's Vitis vinifera parent appears to be Cabernet Franc, and its other genes are from two American grapes (aestivalis and cineara). Apparently that cross occurred in the wild in the SE US, and the grape was taken to the Madeira Islands in the early 1700s!

So Madeira, a classic European winegrape (which might make the world's most-ageable wine, with many examples still tasting good after 300-400 years!) apparently arose in the US and contains significant US grape genes!

Read the story here.

(photo credit: iStock)

Friday, February 8, 2019

What does the recent cold in the Midwest mean for grapes?

It means if they are Vitis vinifera, they are probably all dead now. The classic European winegrapes have little resistance to extreme cold (or to various fungal diseases). But their sturdier American and Asian grape-friends have excellent cold resistance--often down to -40F!, whereas vinifera will die off at about 0 degrees F (and the Amer and Asian grapes have excellent disease ressistance, too). This is why I'm supporting grapes that are crosses between the classic winegrapes (vinifera) and the American and Asian grapes. These modern grapes also ripen earlier. The modern grapes are a win-win-win in every sense.

If you want to talk about foolishness, real foolishness is the expensive and time-consuming planting of Vitis vinifera in the Midwest, when those grapes just cannot live there. Those growers should be planting modern grapes instead. Modern grapes make great wine. When will they learn? It's a little hard to feel too sorry for them.

photo credit: alamy

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