French Hybrid Grapes
French Hybrid Grapes
Twin Mustang Vineyards
– Some questions before you plant –
Question: Are these varieties really that cold hardy?
Answer: Yes! These are some of the most cold hardy varieties in the world. They’ve all borne a full crop after temperatures of -30°F or colder. There are variables to consider, for example over cropping or poor disease control the previous year will substantially reduce the hardiness of any grapevine. Even when well grown, every winter is different in terms of snow cover and acclimation (or de-acclimation) conditions.
Question: Is the wine from these varieties actually good quality or is it just acceptable where few other grapes can be grown?
Answer: These varieties really can make excellent wines when well grown and vinified. Proof of that are the numerous medals wineries in Minnesota and Nevada have been winning in home winemaking, national and international competitions with these hybrid varieties. They are also now starting to be planted in mainstream eastern wine regions where growers have many other options to choose from.
Question: What’s the single biggest factor to consider in deciding where to plant a vineyard?
Answer: Plant your vines on high ground with good air drainage to avoid late frosts in the spring and early frosts in the fall. South slopes are ideal but not essential. Avoid north slopes as the reduced sunlight and heat will retard ripening and the crop will have reduced sugar and increased acidity levels.
Question: What kind of training system should I use with Hybrid varieties?
Answer: Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, and Marquette have all performed well when trained to Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) systems. However, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t also perform as well or better on other training systems.
Frontenac and Frontenac Gris have also done well when grown using the high cordon (HC) system that the more sprawling La Crescent, Petite Pearl, and Edelweiss are to be doing well.
Marquette is the most upright and least vigorous of the 6 and therefore the most likely to succeed on VSP. When choosing between VSP and HC some factors to consider are the potentially better light exposure and fruit quality of VSP as opposed to the reduced labor and greater risk of frost damage from HC. (Since VSP is lower to the ground, vines are more subject to frost damage using that system.)
Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP)
Top Wire Cordon (TWC)
Question: What type of yeasts do you recommend for winemaking with each variety?
Answer: While the choice of yeast strain depends largely on stylistic goals and personal taste, TMV has had had good luck with Pasteur Red (Red Star) and RC212 (Lallemand), for Frontenac and Marquette. Côte des Blancs (Red Star) and EC 1118 (Lallemand) have performed well for La Crescent, Edelweiss, and Frontenac Gris. Generally, yeasts that enhance aromatics are recommended for white wine and rosé production, and those which enhance fruit and body, are recommended for the reds. There are many good yeast strains available, and experimentation is highly recommended.
Question: What length skin contact time do you recommend with Frontenac Petite Pearl, and Marquette?
Answer: Frontenac is typically fermented on the skins for 5-7 days, and Marquette for 8, depending on the desired style, color, and aging potential of finished wine. As a rule, Frontenac has high color and needs less skin contact time than Marquette, which behaves more like V. vinifera.