Thoughts on cab franc, reisling, dornfelder, lemberger, zweigelt

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marquettematt

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Hi all,

I live in an area that makes growing these more cold hardy vinifera very tempting. Any thoughts about these varietals and marginal climate?
 

Johny99

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I grow cab franc and Riesling, but I'm a warmer region. If you like Riesling, it is a good colder climate white. Cab Franc ripens earlier than my Cab Sauv. One of my favorite reds. I've had some really good ones from the Niagra area.

Zwigelt was developed in Austria for colder regions. It makes a lighter fruity red. Typically bright cheries and some earthy spice. It can make a good complex, if lighter, red. Unfortunately, the ones I find around here from Austria are pretty poor. I travel to Austria regularly and I've found some really good ones there. Interestingly, I tasted one from Washington, Nachees Heights, that was heavier and had more dark fruit. I'm guessing it was the warmer growing area.

Have you thought of Lemberger? Another Austrian or German grape. It needs a bit more heat than Zwigelt, but also makes some really good reds. Around here we have a "German" village so they market it as Blaufrankish as in Europe.

My $.02.
 

marquettematt

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Thanks John. I'm in Indiana in the zone 6 area. Here I think we get enough GDD to ripen anything but it's not consistent. In fact, I think we only hit about 3100 this past season. Besides the marginal hardiness my only other concern is if the grapes can develop their characteristics properly. I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it but there is a winery a few miles due west of me. He has cab franc and it seems to survive pretty well except a few winters ago when we got down to -22 which is rather rare. It was a record year. He only makes desert wine from it. Which, and I'm not knocking his style choice, but causes me some concern. Because I know he's a fan of dry, full reds, it makes me wonder if his cab franc can't ripen properly and develop its characteristics properly.
 

ceeaton

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I have a Dornfelder from last Fall aging, actually might bottle 3 gallons of it tonight (have a 5 and 3 gallon carboy and oaked each a bit differently as a learning tool). I made it dry (I know most German versions are off dry to semi-sweet) and it definitely has a good body/mouthfeel and a color that would make a great red dye (extremely dark). I think it can take quite a bit of oak, that's why I'm experimenting with it.

I got the grapes initially from a vineyard just South of me in Southern PA (we are zone 6b here, rarely go below -5*F in the Winter, and if we do it might be for a day or two tops). They tend to ripen with a low brix, the vineyard operator says 18-20 brix is normal. I boosted the SG with a simple syrup, but you can't tell it is watered down at all since it is such a strong, heavy grape. Also he harvested them about mid-September, so I think they are an mid season red around here.

I'd be willing to send you a 375ml bottle from what I bottle tonight if you'd like to sample it, just PM me your information, I'll send it once I get paid on Wednesday (assuming I bottle it tonight, I'm losing interest at this point, surfing and beer are dominating my evening).
 

Pat57

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I'm growing Zweigelt, Dornfelder and Cab Franc on a low wire VSP. Not sure if they will produce well here or not, but I'm giving them a try. I'll be covering the vines with snow in the winter. I live in Upper Michigan
 

marquettematt

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I'm growing Zweigelt, Dornfelder and Cab Franc on a low wire VSP. Not sure if they will produce well here or not, but I'm giving them a try. I'll be covering the vines with snow in the winter. I live in Upper Michigan
From what I've read, if they survive, zweigelt and dornfelder ought to do fairly well but the growing season on cab franc may be a bit of a stretch for your location. Good luck! If you succeed, please share!
 
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