Cornell University Breeding Program introduces new Concord-like grape variety

A seedless Concord-type table grape developed by Cornell University grape breeders
(Photo provided — Bruce Reisch; CALS)

A seedless Concord-type table grape developed by Cornell University grape breeders (Photo provided — Bruce Reisch; CALS)

The Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences has a long and productive history as an institution known for successfully introducing novel plant varieties with cold tolerance and improved disease and insect resistance.Their grape-breeding program, centered at CU’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, dates back to 1888. Since 1972, the program has released roughly 60 new grape varieties. Among them are:

-Cayuga White: one of the most productive and disease resistant varieties grown in New York and CU’s first variety released specifically for winemaking

≤Marquis: a moderately winter hardy, mid-season, white seedless grape with rotund berries of excellent flavor borne on large clusters, best suited for home gardens and u-pick commercial operations

-GR 7: a highly-productive, easy-to-manage, early to mid-season red wine grape for use primarily in red wine blends and distinguished from other red wine grapes grown in cool climates by its high degree of winter hardiness, adaptation to mechanized production systems, and ability to survive in older plantings, where other red wine grapes are lost due to tomato and tobacco ringspot virus infections

-Aromella: a winter-hardy white wine grape with high potential productivity and excellent aromatic muscat wine characteristics

-Arandell: the first release from Dr. Bruce Reisch’s ‘no spray’ grape breeding program; a mid-season red wine grape, which produces dark red wines with clean, berry aromas

Dr. Reisch, a CALS professor of grapevine breeding and genetics, and his team fast-tracked Arandell because it showed exceptional natural disease resistance, even in complete ‘no-spray’ conditions. Arandell was the 13th new grape variety introduced by Reisch since he joined Cornell’s faculty in 1980. Most of the grapes his team has created have been wine grapes.

Congratulations are again in order for Reisch and the Cornell-Geneva Grapevine Breeding and Genetics Program. They recently announced another new and very promising variety of grape; an easy-to-grow, Concord-type, seedless grape with satisfactory cold-tolerance and disease resistance. The vines bear large, heavy clusters of enormous fruit; each grape weighing 5 to 6 grams. The taste is similar to Concord, too.

Reisch believes the new cultivar is well adapted to the Northeast and a first-rate choice for home gardens or for sales at farmers markets, farm stands and u-pick locations. The grapes do not ship or store very well, however.

Vines may be purchased from Double A Vineyards in Fredonia, New York. Double A Vineyards will be exclusively licensed to sell the new grape variety, currently called NY98.0228.02, for 10 years in the U.S., after which it will be non-exclusively available for licensing.

There’s a public contest to honor NY98.0228.02 with a bona fide name. If you’d like to submit an entry, you can do so online at hort.cals.cornell.edu/content/name-grape or by emailing nameit@cornell.edu until July 31. First, second, and third prizes are $100, $50 and $25, respectively, from Double A Vineyards, along with a padfolio and pen with the CU Center for Technology Licensing logo and (1st place) a cutting board with the CU logo, (second) an apron with the CU logo, and (third) a ceramic mug with the CU logo. Entries must be received by July 31. Reisch and Double A Vineyards will pick their favorite names and present them to the public for a final vote in September. The winning name will be announced in October.

N.Y.’s grape industry

The New York grape industry has three distinctly different sectors; table grapes, grape juice and wine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York grape production had a value of $64.5 million in 2016 — up 18 percent from 2015. Fresh grapes totaled 2,000 tons — 115,000 tons were processed for juice and 54,000 tons for wine.

N.Y.’s wine industry

In 1976, there were only 14 New York wineries in just nine counties. Today, there are well-over 400 wineries or associated satellite branches in 53 New York counties. The Finger Lakes is home to more than 100 wineries.

According to a 2013 study conducted by Stonebridge Research of Napa, California, on behalf of the NY Wine and Grape Foundation (newyorkwines.org), wine is now a $4.8 billion industry, in New York state. The study cited nearly 25,000 full-time-equivalent jobs, $1.14 billion in wages paid, 5.29 million tourist visits, $401.5 million in wine-related tourism expenditures, and $408 million in New York State and local taxes paid, prompting Foundation Director Jim Trezise to call New York wine, “the ultimate value-added product and a major economic engine.”

Adirondack Coast Wine Trail

Officially established in 2013, the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail (adkcoastwine.com) celebrates the most-recently-designated wine region in the United States; New York’s Champlain Valley. Family-owned and operated vineyards and wineries along the trail include Amazing Grace Vineyard, Champlain Wine Company, Elfs Farm Winery and Cider House, Hid-In-Pines Vineyard, and Vesco Ridge Vineyard. Everett Orchards, a cidery and farm market, is the sixth stop along the 33-mile scenic trail.

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