U of M releases “Itasca,” a new white grape for dry wines

Photo via the U of MN Horticultural Research Center

Photo via the U of MN Horticultural Research Center

The University of Minnesota’s grape breeding program has released a new variety. Itasca, the fifth-cold hardy variety released by the U of M since 1999, has high sugar levels but lower acidity, making it a prime candidate to be vinified as a dry wine.

The U of M’s previous white varieties, La Crescent and Frontenac Gris, are mostly made into off-dry and sweet wines, much like riesling. Many grape farmers in the upper Midwest have been waiting on a dry white grape to make the kinds of dry wines that might gain recognition on a national scale.

Itasca (known as MN 1285 until now) was identified as an elite seedling back in 2009. Researchers say it produces a wine that is “light yellow to straw in color and has aromas of pear, quince, violet, melon, minerals, and subtle honey notes.”

“This is a very nice grape with lots of potential as a wine maker’s grape,” said Bryan Forbes, the university’s wine maker. “It is clean and pleasant with pear and floral notes and mineral notes with a long finish.”

Nurseries will begin selling the Itasca cultivar in 2017. Expect to get your first taste of a finished Itasca wine from a Minnesota winery around 2021.

[H/t CBS Minnesota]

[H/t University of Minnesota]


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