Midwest Veraison by Dileep Gangolli

Cold Hardy Varietals get NYT Attention

It was great to see coverage in the New York Times on how cold hardy grape varietals are anchoring the wine industry in parts of New York. The Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes region, and the North Fork of Long Island all have wineries that are thriving by using cold hardy varietals that can withstand extreme winter temperatures. Cold hardy varietals have always been controversial. In France, where they were first developed by dedicated viticulturalists such as Ravat and Seyval, cold climate hybrids were outlawed soon after the turn of the 20th century because they were thought to produce wine that was inferior to noble (vinifera) varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet. Fortunately, the

Pinot Days in Chicago

Spring came to Chicago this weekend. When the weather breaks in the Windy City, we are grateful and everyone takes their activities outside. Downtown Chicago and Navy Pier get really crowded so I am grateful that my life partner and Evanston Cellars co-owner, Janice MacDonald attended the annual Pinot Days (#pinotdays) while I guided a wine tour in NW Indiana (#Indianawines). After the movie "Sideways", Pinot Noir has become the sought-after grape for wine. It's a notoriously hard grape to grow. A well made Pinot Noir commands premium pricing so its important to sort through different offerings to figure out what you can afford and enjoy. Janice came back with these thoughts from the wines

Let's welcome Itasca

Last week the University of Minnesota released a new cold hardy white grape which they have named Itasca. Growing grapes in colder climates like the Northern and Midwestern states has always been a challenge but due to the diligent efforts of two leading universities - UM and Cornell - there are now several grape varietals that can withstand severe winters. These varietals all make wine that is acceptable table wine and can be finished from dry to sweet. The biggest obstacle in making wine from these grapes is the high levels of acidity that come from decreased hang times and a shorter growing season. That's why some winemakers such as Larry Mawby in Michigan, prefer to use these grapes fo

Road trip to Alabama means wine?

When you take a road trip to Birmingham to visit family, the last thing you may think about is wine. But all along I-65 are signs for wineries. Too many to stop at or you'll never get to your destination. We are on the road to visit my daughter who is a ballerina in the Alabama Ballet. Before overnighting in Louisville, KY Janice and I stopped at River City Winery in New Albany. New Albany is just over the Ohio River, north of Louisville. As an avid reader of industry news, I had read many mentions of this winery especially their award winning Vignoles. Vignoles is a white grape that is a cold hardy and bred from Riesling. It's the bottle on the left in the photo above. This varietal w

The Dangerous World of Bud Break

Just yesterday, here in Chicago the weather was a balmy 60 degrees. Who ever thought that it would be snowing 24 hours later? The biggest danger with these extreme swings of weather (warm to cold and back again) for the Midwest wine industry is something we call early bud break. When the weather gets warm enough for the sap to work to the ends of the shoots, the buds can start to break out and start their process of getting leaves. But if the weather turns cold again, the buds are in danger of being damaged or even killed. No buds no leaves, no leaves, no grape clusters, no grape clusters no wine. So this time of year is very nerve racking for wine makers and vineyard managers around the M

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