TTB Proposes New Grape Variety Names

Twenty-one grape varieties in 10 states east of the Rockies included for review

by Linda Jones McKee
wine grape vineyard name TTB Chisago
Kevin and Kyle Peterson of WineHaven winery (above) in Chisago City, Minn., patented the grape name Chisago in 2009. Now they would like the grape name to be on the TTB-approved list of wine designations.

Washington, D.C.—The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is considering whether several new grape variety names should be approved for use in designating American wines, according to Notice No. 165 published Nov. 17 in the Federal Register. The varieties include 21 names submitted by grape breeders or wineries in 10 states east of the Rockies. Comments about these varieties must be received by TTB on or before Jan. 17, 2017, in order to be considered.

New York has five grapes on the list, three of which are hybrid varieties developed by the breeding program at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Arandell, a red variety, and Aromella, a white hybrid, were named by Dr. Bruce Reisch, director of the grape-breeding program, in 2013 (see “Introducing Aromella and Arandell”). The third Cornell variety, Geneva Red, is already on TTB’s list of approved varieties as “Geneva Red 7.” The petition for the Geneva Red 7 name was submitted in 2011 by a New York winery, not by Cornell. This time the petition was entered by the university, which is the developer and owner of the grape variety. The proposed change is to remove the name “Geneva Red 7” and replace it with “Geneva Red.”

The other two varieties in New York are “Diana” and “Saperavi.” John H. Brahm III, winemaster and owner of Arbor Hill Winery in Naples, N.Y., asked that Diana be added to the list of approved varieties. The grape, a red hybrid that was probably a seedling of Catawba, has been grown in the Finger Lakes since the mid-1800s. It was used on a label for a 1942 wine from Widmer’s Wine Cellars, and Arbor Hill would like to release a varietal version of Diana.

Three wineries in the Finger Lakes are currently growing Saperavi and produce wine from those grapes. A red Vitis vinifera grape variety, Saperavi originally came from the nation of Georgia.

Private grape breeding in Oklahoma and Minnesota

Four red grape varieties on the TTB list were the result of a private grape-breeding program that George Girouard began in his Oklahoma City, Okla., backyard in 1975. Girouard’s goal was to cross wild vines found in Oklahoma and neighboring states with different V. vinifera varieties. After making many crosses with wild vines without much success, Girouard met Missouri grape breeder, John Grinstead, at a conference. Grinstead gave Girouard a Vitis aetivalis vine, which he considered his best vine. The four varieties on TTB’s list of names all have Grinstead’s vine (JG #3) as one of their parents: By George is Ruby Cabernet x JG #3; Plymouth and Southern Cross are both crosses of Merlot x JG #3, and Valjohn is Cabernet Franc x JG #3.

Girouard’s son, Chris Girouard, started the urban winery Girouard Vines in Tulsa, Okla., in 2007. Today the winery produces Girouard Vines Red Wine, which is 60% Valjohn and 40% Southern Cross, and Girouard Vines Rosé is 60% By George and 40% Plymouth. Chris Girouard told Wines & Vines that the winery plans to make varietal wines as soon as the names are approved by the TTB.

The University of Minnesota and private breeders in the state have been major factors in developing cold-hardy grapes for northern regions of the United States and Canada, which cannot reliably grow V. vinifera or many of the hybrids. Tom Plocher, a grower in Hugo, Minn., has named several varieties, most recently Crimson Pearl and Verona in 2015 (see “New Cold-Climate Grapes Named”). Petite Pearl, a red variety crossed in 1996 and named in 2009 (see “New Wine Grape Named in Minnesota”) is now on the list to become a federally approved grape variety name.

Elmer Swenson, the “father of northern grape breeding,” started breeding grapes on his farm in Wisconsin just after World War II. He then worked with the University of of Minnesota and helped to kick-start the university’s breeding program. Deja Vine Vineyards and Winery in Martell, Iowa, petitioned to have Swenson’s white hybrid Esprit become an approved variety wine.

Kevin and Kyle Peterson, the father-son winemaking team at WineHaven Winery in Chisago City, Minn., started a grape-breeding program in the 1990s to support their winery, which opened in 1995. Chisago, a cross of St. Croix and Swenson Red, is cold hardy to -40° F and was patented in 2009.

Wine from table grapes, native grapes
Two other grapes developed by Cornell are on the list for TTB approval. A petition from Wyldewood Cellars Winery in Mulvane, Kan., requested that Marquis, a grape patented in 1999, be added to the list. A white seedless grape, Marquis was the result of a cross of Athens x Emerald Seedless made by George Remaily in 1964 and has primarily been used as a table grape. Another table grape, Sheridan, a cross of Herbert and Worden, was released by Cornell in 1921. The request for wine approval was submitted by Blackhawk Winery in Sheridan, Ind.

Jupiter, a red table grape developed at the University of Arkansas, was submitted by Yamhalis Vineyard in Yamhill, Ore. A cross of two numbered University of Arkansas grapes, Jupiter was released in 1999 and patented in 2002. Although used primarily as a table grape, the variety is known for its muscat flavors.

Two table grape varieties were submitted by Clover Meadow Winery in Shell Lake, Wis. Bluebell, a “blue” grape developed at the University of Minnesota in 1944, resembles Concord in appearance and flavor, but it ripens earlier and is more cold hardy. King of the North, another red grape primarily used as a table grape, is a hybrid of "uncertain lineage.” The variety is very cold hardy and has pronounced Vitis labrusca aroma and flavors.

Vitis riparia grapes grow primarily in cold, northern regions of the United States. One example, Riverbank, a red variety, was submitted to become a registered wine variety by Wild Grape Vineyards in Kindred, N.D. Another grape, a Vitis mustangensis called Mustang, grows wild in areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama. The petition for its inclusion was entered by Natalia Winery of Natalia, Texas, which currently produces a wine that is 100% Mustang.

The final two names under consideration are Black Spanish and Jacquez, which are both synonyms for Lenoir, a red hybrid with V. vinifera and V. aestivalis parentage that dates back to the early 19th century. Named after a man who grew it in South Carolina prior to 1829, Lenoir has had many names in its long history, including Black Spanish and Jacquez. The name Black Spanish was submitted by Majik Vineyard and Winery in San Antonio, Texas, and Jacquez was entered by Haak Vineyards and Winery in Santa Fe, Texas.

Currently no comments posted for this article.