The Hybrid Grapes Creating a New Future for Rosé

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Great rosé can be made anywhere in the world, from any red wine grape. That includes hybrid varieties, those made from crossing two or more different grape species.

Though most were originally cultivated for increased disease resistance, these biologically diverse varieties have since proven they are also able to tolerate a range of environments. And as climate change rapidly re-charts the regions where specific grapes will succeed, more and more winemakers have turned to crossbreeds to help meet the still-booming demand for pink bottlings.

That’s where American winemakers get a bit of a leg up. Producers in the Midwest and northeastern U.S. have a rich history of farming hybrids derived from Vitis vinifera with North American native species, like Vitis labrusca or Vitis riparia, which can survive—and even thrive—in the states’ harsher settings.

For refreshing, summer-friendly rosés, these producers use grapes like Chambourcin, Marquette and Frontenac Gris. Ahead, three bottlings to get yourself acquainted.

A Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Grapes

Petoskey Farms Marquette Rosé

Petoskey, MI

This bottling is made entirely with Marquette, a teinturier hybrid with skin that looks more blue-colored and flesh that has an equally dark pigment. To ensure the rosé maintains a pink shade, Winemaker Josh Morgan keeps skin-contact to a minimum. Developed at the University of Minnesota in 1989, it was scrupulously evaluated before being released for public use in 2006.

Rosemont Extra Brut Sparkling Rosé

La Crosse, VA

Here, Winemaker Justin Rose makes not one, but two kinds of rosé from hybrids (one still, one sparkling). This unfiltered pink bubbly is made entirely from Chambourcin, which is a cross of still-unknown French and American grapes.

La Garagista Lupo In Bocca Rosé

Bethel, VT

Winemaker Deirdre Heekin and her husband, Caleb Barber, are well-known for demonstrating the potential of hybrid grapes at their biodynamic farm. This deeply colored bottling, made from the pink-berried Frontenac Gris grape developed at the University of Minnesota, is a more savory tasting rosé that will take you through all four seasons.

Alba Vineyard Chelsea Dry Rosé

Warren Hills, NJ

Planted up and down the East Coast, Chambourcin is one of the most popular hybrid grapes currently grown in New Jersey, showcased in this Alba Vineyard blend with 25% Cabernet Franc. Both are aromatic, spicy grapes that complement each other nicely.

Iapetus Figure 3 Pétillant Naturel Rosé

Shelburne, VT

“In a northern region like Vermont, we work with varieties that are most suited to our climate,” says Ethan Joseph, winegrower for Iaeptus and Shelburne Vineyard. His deep-hued, pétillant naturel rosé consists of 100% Marquette and undergoes a second fermentation in its crown-capped bottle.

Published on June 16, 2020
Topics: Hybrid Grapes