Trial seeks winegrapes better suited to central California

07/03/2012 11:37:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Many of the popular winegrape varieties, such as merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, perform better in climates a bit cooler than California's Central Valley.

So researchers have begun a winegrape trial at the University of California's Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Parlier, to find better suited varieties, according to a news release.

Nearly 80 percent of California wines are made from fewer than 10 winegrape varieties, with chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon leading the list.

Matthew Fidelibus, a UC Cooperative Extension viticulture and enology specialist, is superivising the trial.

Many of the varieties in the trial came from Spain, Greece and Italy, where the climate—with hot days and warm evenings—is similar to the Central Valley.

Nearly half of the 55 varieties showed enough promise that Constellation Brands made 25 small lots of vine.

“We need a breakthrough variety,” Oren Kaye, a research and development winemaker at Constellation Brands, said in the release.

Perhaps a fianio, a white wine with flavors of melon and grapefruit, or a marselan noir, a red wine with a cherry flavor?

Kaye said the new varieties probably would appeal to millennials, or twenty-somethings, that like to explore new foods and drinks and think nothing of pulling out a smartphone to look up a variety they haven't heard of before.



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