ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell University scientists are asking the public for names for two new wine grape varieties that will be released from their breeding program in 2013.
The two latest varieties from grape breeder Bruce Reisch include a cold-hardy white wine grape and an innovative organic dark red. The first conjures up citrusy aromatic characteristics; the second has a hint of blueberry. However, their current names – NY76.0844.24 and NY95.0301.01 – hint at very little.
Reisch hopes that a contest will help change that.
But before you hit send, consider this: Just as there's a science to developing a great grape, Reisch said, there is much to consider when naming it. Not only must the name be unique – a challenge with 7,000 other grape varieties – it must also be marketable, reasonably easy to pronounce and carry positive connotations. Names that are foreign-sounding or similar to well-loved varieties are popular, a combination that has worked for Noiret, a wine grape released by the Cornell breeding program in 2006.
The researcher is accepting name submissions for the two new varieties by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
until Monday, Aug. 6. The winning names will be revealed at the Viticulture 2013 conference in Rochester, N.Y., Feb. 6-8.
His efforts have been fruitful so far. An appeal through the national cooperative extension network has already garnered nearly 100 entries from around the world, including Australia and Scandinavia.
Dark red NY95.0301.01 was developed in 1995 and was fast-tracked into production because of its promise as an organic variety. The first grape to be released from the "no-spray" vineyard, it has good resistance to downy and powdery mildews. Reisch said it exhibits moderate body, good structure and blueberry flavor on the palate.
NY76.0844.24 was first created in 1976; this white grape variety ranks high for winter hardiness and productivity, with excellent wine quality and aromatic characters reminiscent of Gewürztraminer or a citrusy Muscat, he said.
The Cornell grape breeding program, which has released 56 cultivars since 1888, has many new varieties under development. Cayuga White, released in 1972 as the program's first wine grape, now accounts for more than $20 million in wine production in New York annually, and the hybrid Traminette has become the signature wine of Indiana.
Reisch hopes the contest will create some buzz about other emerging varieties, which often face uphill battles when it comes to marketing.
"There are so many different flavors. Why shouldn't people get excited about new varieties? They keep things interesting for the consumer and are often better for growers," he said.
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