March 29, 2017

The First “Bottle Shock” Was in the Midwest

Many of us are familiar with the prestigious wine judging that took place in Paris in 1976 in honor of the American Bi-Centennial. The event was commemorated, or should we say celebrated by the Americans at least, in the movie “Bottle Shock.”Designed to be a competition between several well-regarded American wines vs. a selection of some of France’s most famed wines it took on … [Read more...]

John Marshall’s Favorite White Hybrid Grapes

I was invited to a wedding some years ago now, outside Phoenix, Arizona. Since I arrived in Arizona a day early, I was interested to see what the famous varieties of Europe might do in the high arid climes above Phoenix. The climate is so unlike California or Bordeaux I was hoping to find some surprises but was disappointed that most of the wines were imported directly from California. I found an … [Read more...]

Grape Pickers Make Great Wine Salespeople

When selling wine at a local winery, it is important to realize the customer has not come into your tasting room to buy a bottle of wine.  It is a truism of winery marketing that if they wanted to buy a bottle of wine they would go to a liquor store.  When visitors come into your winery, they are looking for an experience.Therefore, they don’t want to talk to a student earning money after … [Read more...]

John Marshall: Tips for Getting Grapes Ripe

It seems like only yesterday- well last year- when we saw conditions like this; a chilly spring, no heat to bring the buds along and a late blossom which got our crops off to a very late start. The only difference is that a year ago most of us had very heavy crops, which were approaching September like a huge freight train charging full speed toward an open draw bridge. Lots of crop rushing day by … [Read more...]

Labrusca Wines Deserve More Respect

When discussing wine, it is close to fatal to suggest a wine is a Labrusca or even has some Labrusca characteristics. Winemakers, enthusiasts and sommeliers will drop the discussion like it was a cold that is still contagious. No wine professional wants to be consorting with or making wine from any Labrusca variety.To understand how Labrusca wines are viewed in the U.S. today, we must … [Read more...]

John Marshall: My Favorite Red Wine Grapes

This article is a companion to an earlier piece describing cold hardy white grapes that seem to have found their niche in a crisp, flowery and fruity style.Cold hardy reds, on the other hand, do not seem to have found their place or their style and as yet.  They do not seem to get the respect their white counterparts are beginning to enjoy.Even so, these reds make palatable and interesting … [Read more...]

Red Storm Rising Across Northern Wineries

Cold hardy red wine grapes appear to be in a kind of limbo, looking for an identity, a style, a flavor profile to call their own. Unlike the hardy whites that seem to have found a light, flowery, fruity, crispness that cannot be found out west or nearly anywhere, our reds seem to be trying to imitate California.To be sure our reds have improved in palatability but until we become comfortable … [Read more...]

Northern White Hybrids Form a New Class of Wine

I was in Arizona years ago attending a wedding and I sought out some local wineries to satisfy my curiosity. It was fascinating seeing vineyards clinging to arid mountainsides, some bordered by impossible looking desert rivers. I recall thinking how different each of these wines would be, each in its own mini-climate.Alcantara Winery is at the confluence of the Verde River and Oak Creek, … [Read more...]

Northern Hybrids- A New Class of Grapes

There is no shortage of hybrid grapes or classes of hybrid grapes these days.  French hybrids, German hybrids,  California hybrids, Cornell hybrids, Labrusca hybrids, Riparia hybrids;  the list goes on and on.  However, a new class of hybrids has emerged in the last twenty years or so, grapes we have come to call Northern hybrids.  These grapes are making wine grape growing practical in cold … [Read more...]

Overuse of Multiple Trunks

When I began growing grapes in the 1970s at an experimental vineyard near my father’s orchard, it was routine to train vines to more than one trunk, a practice known today as “multiple trunks.” All the early growers used it and eastern academia generally embraced this technique as an integral element in cold climate grape culture.In truth, it was a pain to employ, as training two trunks from … [Read more...]