December 5, 2016

Offbeat European Grapes Growing Across the Midwest

Black Star Farms Winery (photo courtesy of the winery)

Increasingly, Midwestern winemakers are defying convention by growing popular vinifera grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. But in recent years, a number of vineyards have planted lesser known European grapes considered offbeat for the Midwest, like Gruner Veltliner and Teroldego.


An example of an adventurous viticulturalist is Nick Ferrante, owner of Ferrante Winery in Harpersfield Town, Ohio. Ferrante wanted to produce a wine from grapes grown in Ohio that would reflect his Italian heritage. So this spring, he planted Dolcetto.

Dolcetto originates from the Piedmont region of northern Italy, and while it is sometimes grown in California – Ferrante sourced his vines from Santa Rosa – it’s virtually unheard of in the Midwest. Literally translated, Dolcetto means “little sweet one,” but Dolcetto generally presents as a dry, light bodied, jammy, fruity wine.

Ferrante says his Dolcetto wine will be “dry, fruit forward with some barrel aging.” He’s confident that Dolcetto can ripen along Lake Erie,  however Ferrante does have some concerns about Dolcetto’s winter hardiness. The young vines survived this year’s dry conditions and if all goes well, he expects to be producing Ferrante’s first Dolcetto wine in 2016.

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