Finger Lakes Wine Society - French-Hybrid Grapes
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French-Hybrid Grapes

The Hybrids are also known as French-American Hybrids.  This type of grapes came about partly by regular experimentation and cross-breeding but mostly by necessity of saving Vitis Vinifera crops from phylloxera, a nasty kind of root-rot that ravaged vineyards all over Europe.

Many Hybrid varieties grow particularly well in the Finger Lakes as they were created to suit the cooler climate in the Finger Lakes.  Cayuga White, a hybrid French-American grape, was developed by Cornell University at their Experimental Station in Geneva, NY in 1962.  It was Cornell's first variety released specifically for wine.

The following are examples of the French-American Hybrid varieties of grapes you may find around the Finger Lakes:


Baco Noir


Cayuga is a French-American hybrid that was originally hybridized by Cornell University specifically for growing in the Finger Lakes region. This variety does quite well in colder climates and produces large grapes and abundant fruit. Cayuga is used in many blends around the Finger Lakes, but makes a fine varietal on its own. It makes a great sipping wine and can be served with lighter fair, hors d'oeuvres and appetizers. Cayuga varietal wines are typically a little sweeter and are wonderful entry level wines for new wine consumers. Cayuga wines are also usually very reasonably priced.





This hybrid was first introduced in the Newburgh area of the Hudson Valley by a dentist named Dr. C.W. Grant. He purchased an island in the Hudson River, near Peekskill, and dubbed it Iona Island. He planted his new grapes on the island and for twenty yeats, was in the business of selling both cuttings of the vines and grapes. He enjoyed prosperity and was an avid and shrewd promoter of his hybrid. The variety found its way into our area and many wineries around the Finger Lakes region have done well with this one. Iona grapes will grow in most soils but like most grape varieties, will do better with good drainage.


Seyval Blanc



Vidal Blanc

Vignoles, also known as Ravat, Ravat Blanc or Ravat 51, is a French-American hybrid cross between Pinot Noir and a Seibel hybrid. This variety typically yields small, compact clusters and may acquire botrytis also known as noble rot- a mold praised in producing delicious late harvest and ice wines. This sweet wine is a perfect match for desserts and has a complex, apricot flavor as well as a glimmer of honey.


This list is in progress...
If you grow a vinifera grape in the Finger Lakes that is not listed here, we would like to hear about it! Please let us know!


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