Univ. of Minnesota creates new Itasca wine grape

Itasca grape. Photo credit: University of Minnesota / CFANS

The University of Minnesota has developed a new cold-hardy grape to make dry white wines. The grape, named Itasca, is the fifth cold-hardy wine grape developed by university researchers.

University winemaker Bryan Forbes found Itasca produces a wine that is light yellow to straw in color, with aromas of pear, quince, violet, melon, minerals and honey. Itasca has lower acidity and high sugar levels, and has shown cold hardiness as far north as the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Zone 4. Licensed nurseries will begin selling the new Itasca grape in 2017.

"We believe these traits will make Itasca a preferred variety for vineyard managers, because they will be able to reduce their spray inputs, and for wine makers in making a dry-style wine," said Matt Clark, assistant professor of horticultural science.

The University of Minnesota has previously developed the Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, La Crescent and Marquette wine grapes. A 2014 U of M study found the cold-climate grape growing and winery industry to have an estimated  $401 million economic impact nationwide.