October 20, 2017

US Versus Europe Taste Off at VitiNord ’15

The 2015 VitiNord International Viticulture & Enology Conference is taking place from 11-14 November in Nebraska City. This year, the leading event focusing on the latest advances in cold hardy grape growing and winemaking around the world, will include a unique ‘taste off’ between cold hardy hybrids and European hybrids.

Organizer and grape breeder, Tom Plocher, says attendees will be able to taste and compare wine from cold and cool climates in the United States and also Denmark, Poland, Quebec, the Maritimes and British Columbia.

“Poland has quite an industry based on these new Euro hybrids,” said Plocher. Those varieties include Regent, a dark skinned grape with high resistance to Downy Mildew that can make a rich tannic red wine; Rondo, the hardiest of the group, and the extremely early ripening Solaris variety that produces an excellent aromatic white wine.

Fun in March at Shelburne Vineyard (photo courtesy winery)

Fun in March at Shelburne Vineyard (photo courtesy winery)

The international wines will feature during the Global Wine Tasting on Thursday 12th November. This VitiNord tradition involves attendees from emerging wine regions in the US, Canada, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia bringing a bottle or two of wine from their country to share in an informal wine tasting social event.

However, the ‘taste off’ is this year’s VitiNord novelty and addition to the Global Wine Tasting event. Attendees will be able to taste and compare wines from two prominent grape breeding traditions. One is the tradition represented by the cold hardy grapes developed in Minnesota and Wisconsin and now widely grown around North America. These include Petite Pearl, Marquette, Brianna, La Crescent, and Frontenac gris. The second tradition is represented by the PIWI varieties (short for the German “pilzwiederstandsfähig” which translates into “robust against fungal threats”) developed at Geisenheim, Geiweilerhof, and Freiburg in Germany. These varieties include Regent, Rondo, Solaris, and Johanitter. PIWI varieties are being planted all over the non-traditional cool climate wine regions in Europe from the UK to Sweden.

At the Midwest Wine Tasting on Wednesday 11th November there will also be an opportunity to taste and compare wines produced from cold climate grape varieties grown in Midwestern states, ranging from North Dakota to Minnesota to Illinois. The varieties include Petite Pearl, Marquette, La Crescent, Brianna, Lacrosse, and Frontenac gris. Attendees will also learn about the viticultural and winemaking challenges of each variety.

Vines at L. Mawby Winery in January (photo courtesy winery)

Vines at L. Mawby Winery in January (photo courtesy winery)

There will also be a range of workshops. Larry Mawby from Mawby Winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan, a pioneer of Midwest sparkling wine production, will present a class on making sparkling wine. The lesson will include a discussion of the various methods used to make sparkling wine, from methode champenois to cuvee close.

Three leading cold climate winemakers will present the workshop, “Winemaking with Emerging Varietals.” Rod Ballinger from Bear Creek Winery, Fargo, North Dakota; Simon Naud from Vignoble de la Bauge, Quebec; and Ethan Joseph from Shelburne Vineyard, Burlington, Vermont, will guide attendees through a tasting of Frontenac blanc and Frontenac gris wines from Quebec, Marquette and Louise Swenson wines from Vermont, and Petite Pearl and Crimson Pearl wines from North Dakota. They will discuss the grapes, the wines, and the winemaking techniques that produced them.

The workshop “From Grapes to Wine: Wine Tasting for Growers” will deal with one of the age-old conundrums of the wine industry: the tension between growers and winemakers over when grapes should be harvested. Part of the workshop includes a report by Illinois Grape and Wine Association Enology Specialist, Bradley Beam. Beam’s team harvested four varieties on three different harvest dates and produced a wine sample from each one. The varieties were Edelweiss, Frontenac gris, Marquette, and Petite Pearl. The audience will be guided through a tasting of these wines and reflect on differences associated with ripeness. Dr. Karine Pednault from Quebec’s Agriculture Development Center will discuss the underlying chemical changes that occur during ripening and cause these variations. Gaelle Dube, agronomist & viticulture consultant, based in Quebec City will explain aspects of vine management that can enhance ripening, fruit quality, and the resulting wine.

For more information on 2015 VitiNord and to register go to: http://www.vitinord2015.org/

Early-bird registration continues until 15 September