Grape breeders from New York’s Cornell University are about to begin sifting through submissions after appealing for the public’s help in naming two new wine grape varieties due for release next year.
Currently, their cold-hardy white wine grape and organic dark red grape go by the rather clinical names of NY76.0844.24 and NY95.0301.01, respectively.
In a campaign that engaged the public through social media, grape breeder Bruce Reisch is looking to christen the new grapes with something less prosaic – names that evoke the unique characteristics of each grape and can be easily remembered, he says. There are other requirements, Reisch points out: the name must be distinct from 7000 other grape varieties, marketable, easy to pronounce and have positive connotations.
Submissions for the disease-resistant red grape include armor themes, while the winter hardy white wine grape has inspired suggestions of Cornell alumni hockey hall-of-famers. Submissions have come from as far as Australia and Scandinavia.
The dark red grape was developed in 1994 as an organic variety and is said to have good resistance to the fungal diseases downy and powdery mildews. The grape has a hint of blueberry flavor on the palate.
The white wine grape was created in 1976 and is distinctive for its winter hardiness and productivity. Reisch says wine from NY76.0844.24 has characteristics reminiscent of a gewürztraminer or a citrusy muscat.
New varieties that have come out of Cornell include noiret, geneva red, and cayuga white, created in 1972, and which accounts for $20 million of New York’s annual wine production. The university has released 56 cultivars since 1888.
The winning names will be revealed at the Viticulture 2013 conference in Rochester, New York, February 6-8.
Meanwhile, Chilean researchers announced in April that they had developed a new grape strain called iniagrape-one – a deep blue, almost black variety with firm skin and medium crispness.
At the variety's launch in Santiago, Antonio Walker, then president of Fedefruta, the industry body representing Chilean horticulturists, noted that it possessed two crucial qualities for bringing a return on investment: it is high yielding and bred for early harvesting.
The first harvest of iniagrape-one is set for January 15 next year in the Elqui Valley, and February 15 in the Aconcagua Valley. The timing is significant: the first batch of export grapes will coincide with a market window for red varieties in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in Chile's key markets of America and Asia.