American Midwest’s Hybrid wine Grapes
By Mark Gudgel | Photography by Carole Topalian
On a Wednesday in early February, snow rapidly descended from the dark morning sky to blanket the earth, making Omaha’s roads slow going and treacherous to navigate, if not entirely impassable. Two days later, on Friday, it broke 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow disappeared with the same rapidity with which it had come. Longtime residents of the area generally seemed to find the weather unremarkable.
The regions grape growers, ubiquitous and scattered across the expansive Midwestern area, face the considerable challenge of coaxing fruit from a place with extreme, often erratic weather, in addition to the usual obstacles to viticulture that include pests and pesticides, erosion, birds and other enemies of the vine. One way those who farm grapes have found success in these unfriendly environs is by favoring hybrid varieties over better-known Vitis vinifera (European grapes). Bred to be cold hearty and disease resistant, if less recognizable by name to most casual consumers, these hybrids make up the vast majority of the grapes being grown in the American Midwest.
While many people can tell you what they like in Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, … Read More