NPR Airs Spot on U.MN “Northern Grapes” on Morning Edition

May 17

On Friday May 16th, David Sommerstein on National Public Radio wrote a segment aired on “Morning Edition” titled “Researchers Don’t ‘Wine’ About The Cold, Their Grapes Thrive.” The story focused on the cold-hardy grapes bred by the University of Minnesota that are now being cultivated in 12 northern states from Minnesota to Vermont. These grapes, starting with the frontenac (red) released in 1996, to the lately-released frontenac blanc (an albino mutation of the former), combine native grape cold hardiness and ability to ripen a crop in a short growing season, with good fungal disease resistance and the finesse one expects from the European (vinifera) species, thanks to the balance of native and vinifera genes.

Aside from the red frontenac and white frontenac blanc, other varieties include la crescent (riesling-like), marquette (the most successful northern red, which resembles a northern Rhone blend), and frontenac gris (a pinot gris-like mutation of frontenac).

These grapes are now being referred to as Northern Grapes, and Tim Martinson of Cornell University in New York heads a multi-state specialty crop grant to research and promote awareness of these grapes in areas where only native varieties or non-sexy but cold-hardy old French hybrid varieties could survive the winter and make wine. Martinson and his colleague Peter Hemstad, head of the U. of MN’s grape breeding program, are both quoted on the segment. To hear the segment, link to

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