Our varieties are hybrids of European and North American grapes, bred to achieve the subtle flavors of European grapes while remaining resistant to the cold Ohio winters.
The information and photos were provided by Cornell University on its public web site. For many years, Cornell has been a highly regarded pioneer in the development of new hybrids for American vineyards, and a true friend of the vineyardist and winemaker.
Cayuga White, named at Geneva in 1972, is one of the most productive and disease resistant varieties grown in New York. Its wine has been highly rated, having medium body and good balance. An important positive attribute is its versatility; it lends itself to making semi-sweet wines emphasizing the fruity aromas, and is also made as a dry, less fruity wine with oak aging. When harvested early, it may produce a very attractive sparkling wine with good acidity, good structure, and pleasant aromas. When over-ripe, however, it can develop strong hybrid aromas with slight American overtones. The excellent cultural characteristics and high wine quality indicate an important future for this variety
Chardonel (Plant patent 7860) was named by Cornell University in 1990 due to superior performance in Michigan and Arkansas. Cold hardiness has been nearly as good as for Seyval in New York, but good locations with long growing seasons are required to fully ripen the fruit. This cross of Seyval x Chardonnay produces an excellent wine when fully ripened, with fruit aromas characteristic of Chardonnay and Seyval. The potential for sparkling wine production appears to be good.
More vines of Frontenac are growing in Minnesota than of any other variety, due to overall viticultural performance and excellent wine quality.
Frontenac is a very cold-hardy vine and has borne a full crop after temperatures as low as -30° F. The small black berries are produced on medium to large clusters that are usually slightly loose. As a result, berry splitting and bunch rot have been rare, even in wet years. Frontenac has been a consistently heavy producer and sometimes requires cluster thinning. Frontenac is vigorous and usually becomes established quickly.
Frontenac ripens in late midseason, and it is important to let the fruit hang long enough to fully mature, to reduce the acidity to workable levels. This is less of a problem when Frontenac is grown further south, under warmer conditions. Fortunately, the pH does not often rise to dangerous levels. Frontenac is a good sugar producer with 24-25 Brix not uncommon. Frontenac wine typically has a pleasant cherry aroma with berry and plum evident in many cases. The herbaceousness of its wild riparia background is almost entirely absent. The color is usually a garnet red, but can become excessively dark with long periods of skin time. Malolactic fermentation is essential to reduce the wine’s high acidity. Tannin levels are usually relatively low.
Frontenac is very disease-resistant, with good resistance to powdery mildew and near-immunity to downy.
Frontenac Gris is a grey-fruited sport of Frontenac used to make white wines. The vine has essentially the same vineyard characteristics as Frontenac. However, the wine is quite different, said to have peach, apricot, pineapple and citrus aromas, with no herbaceous or labrusca character. This variety has not been tested at the Geneva Experiment Station.
GR 7 (“Geneva Red 7″) is an early / mid-season red wine grape for use primarily in red wine blends. It is distinguished from other red wine grapes grown in cool climates by its high degree of winter hardiness, adaptation to mechanized production systems, and ability to survive in older plantings where other red wine grapes are lost due to tomato and tobacco ringspot virus infections. GR 7 is a highly productive, easy to manage cultivar, and is the sixth wine grape to be developed by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station of Cornell University.
Marechal Foch (Kuhlmann 188-2) is a very early ripening black grape with small berries and clusters that produce a fruity light red table wine. The vines are hardy and medium in vigor and production. Marechal Foch should be grafted on a resistant rootstock to ensure adequate vigor. Birds are attracted to the small black berries.
Very good quality red wines have been made from Foch at wineries in Minnesota and elsewhere. This variety is versatile, lending itself to both reds and roses. Foch is early-ripening and one of the hardiest French hybrids. Widely grown commercially in Minnesota. On good sites in southern Minnesota, there is no need to cover the vines for winter protection. Birds prefer small, black, early grapes, so Marechal Foch is particularly attractive to them. As its clusters are relatively small, it should not be pruned severely.
Quite resistant to common grape diseases; slight susceptibility to both powdery and downy mildews. .
Noiret is a mid-season red wine grape suitable for the production of varietal wines. The distinctive red wine is richly colored and has notes of green and black pepper along with raspberry, blackberry, and some mint aromas. A major distinguishing characteristic of this selection is the fine tannin structure that is complete from the front of the mouth to the back. The tannin structure and the absence of any hybrid aromas strongly distinguish this selection from other red hybrid grapes. The vine is moderately winter hardy and moderately resistant to powdery mildew and Botrytis bunch rot.
Seyval (Seyve-Villard 5-276, commonly marketed as Seyval blanc) is one of the most widely planted hybrid grapes east of the Rocky Mountains. When harvested at optimal maturity, its wines have attractive grassy, hay, and melon aromas. The body tends to be thin, and malolactic fermentation and barrel fermentation/oak aging are used to enhance quality. The vine tends to overbear and must be thinned to ensure proper ripening and to maintain vine size.
Traminette was named and released at Geneva in 1996. This Gewürztraminer hybrid produces wines of excellent quality similar in aroma to its well-known parent. There is good balance in the must between levels of sugar, acid, and pH. The vine is much more winter hardy than its Gewürztraminer parent, moderately productive, and just slightly susceptible to powdery mildew and Botrytis. Maturity is late mid-season, Oct. 5-10 in Geneva.
Flavor expression with Traminette is best when the must is given some (24 to 48 hours) skin contact with 50 mg/L SO2 at 5 C. Wines made with skin contact do not develop objectionable bitterness or high pH, though this should always be monitored. If necessary, pH should be adjusted before fermentation (should be no higher than 3.4). In fruit grown in warmer regions increased bitterness and a high pH must might become a problem. Then shorter skin contact time should be used. If very long skin contact times are used, the typical floral/spicy Gewürztraminer flavors may shift to muscat-like flavors.
Typically, the wines made with some skin contact have strong spice and floral aromas, a full structure, and long aftertaste. The wine can be made dry or sweet. Mouthfeel of the dry wine is good with nice texture and good spice feel.
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