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Wine grapes specially bred for extreme temperatures may have a future, despite any laughs connoisseurs might have at the thought of wine labels extolling the virtues of the terroir of Deadwood or Fargo.
The Northern Grapes Project is trying to grow wine grapes where summers are short and winters brutal and scientists say the wine is improving every year. Anne Fennell, one of the researchers and a professor of plant sciences at South Dakota State University said there are 30 species of native grapes in North America, but none that produce drinkable wines. All the grapes that do, were imported from Europe, beginning in the 18th century.
While places such as California’s Napa Valley have climates and soils in which these wine grapes thrive, much of the U.S. has more extreme weather, with very cold winters and short growing seasons.
The American scientists are creating new complex hybrids by combining vitis vinifera — the scientific name for the classic European-American wine grapes — with the most common cold-resistant North American grape species, vitis riparia.
But growers of the new hybrid grapes have a marketing problem. The idea of drinking a South Dakota vintage does not occur often outside the area. Almost all the wine is sold locally, but they would love to expand the market.
Being so new, the industry still has much to learn. It’s not known, for instance, if cold-climate red wines will improve with age as classic wines do. It also isn’t known if using oak barrels will improve the wine.
“Growers are certainly interested in those techniques,” Clark said, “including marketing.”
Read full, original post: South Dakota Wine? New Grape Genetically Optimized For Extreme Temperatures