Bruce Reisch harvests grapes as part of the Cornell grape-breeding program, which has several new varieties in the pipeline. Courtesy Elizabeth Takacs. Although its history goes back to the s, the Cornell University grape-breeding program is always looking forward. This program, which has released about 60 new grape varieties over the decades, introduced its latest entries in with Arandell and Aromella, and has several more in the pipeline, according to Dr. Bruce Reisch, professor of grape breeding and grape genetics at Cornell. Cornell released Traminette in
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Photo by K. Much of the Finger Lakes' increasing reputation for good wine over the past decade is because the region's microclimate is similar to the fine grape growing regions of Germany and France. But whether or not grapes will survive sudden hard freezes, or temperatures that plummet by as much as 70 degrees as they did in just 12 hours last January, are questions of bottom-line survival.
It can take 20 to 30 years of careful breeding, testing, and evaluation before a variety is ready for release. New grapes that have been bred for the climate are eagerly anticipated. Traminette is a vinifera-type wine grape. Marquis is a table grape. Both are white hybrids that combine excellent fruit quality with cold-hardiness derived from American species. They are able to stand up to short Northeastern growing seasons and exhibit some disease resistance.
Growers were instrumental in both the testing and the naming process. Until they are released, grapes are referred to by number only. A name can make or break a grape's commercial acceptance.
Robert Pool and the late John Einset, of Geneva, project leaders for the grape breeding program at Geneva prior to , were active in the early development of both new varieties. Reisch has released three white wine grapes -- Chardonel, Melody, and Horizon -- and one red seedless table grape -- Einset Seedless -- since coming to the grape breeding program at Geneva in The press conference will be held in conjunction with the opening reception of the 4th International Symposium on Cool Climate Viticulture and Enology.
These are vinifera type wines from vines that are much easier to grow in cold climates. Seed were planted by the Geneva breeding program in Reisch worked closely with the Enology program under the leadership of Thomas Henick-Kling to evaluate the quality of Traminette wines and to develop suitable fermentation techniques.
He is tremendously impressed with the cold-hardiness of Traminette. Yields average 4 to 4. He has been selling it as a blend in his "Pearl" and "Gypsy" wines. Marquis is moderately disease resistant. The fruit ripens in mid-September, after Himrod. Mildly fruity at first, Marquis will develop a rich Labrusca flavor if left to ripen on the vine.
The cross which produced Marquis was made in by George Remaily. Seventeen seedling vines were planted in experimental grape breeding plots in Fruit has been observed since Promising results have been reported from Marquis trials in Arkansas, Indiana, and Michigan. Semi-commercial trials are being prepared in southwest Michigan. Because there is international interest in large-berried seedless table grapes, Cornell has applied for a plant patent for Marquis.
Patenting a grape carries an expensive up front cost for the University. Traminette will not be patented. Free non-exclusive licenses for Marquis may be obtained from the Cornell Research Foundation in Ithaca.
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Cornell’s grape choices
Adapted from: Reisch, B. Pool , W. Robinson, T. Henick-Kling , B. Gavitt, J. Watson, M.
New Grapes From Cornell Debut
Photo by K. Much of the Finger Lakes' increasing reputation for good wine over the past decade is because the region's microclimate is similar to the fine grape growing regions of Germany and France. But whether or not grapes will survive sudden hard freezes, or temperatures that plummet by as much as 70 degrees as they did in just 12 hours last January, are questions of bottom-line survival. It can take 20 to 30 years of careful breeding, testing, and evaluation before a variety is ready for release.
Meet Aromella, the newest Finger Lakes wine (and the grape it's made from)