by Marilyn Odneal, Horticulture Adviser
Missouri grape growers are looking at their developing crop and hoping for warm and sunny days in June when the grapes will be flowering. Once the little top hats (caps) fall off the grape flowers, warm, dry weather and a bit of wind will aid pollination and ensure a good crop.
The Missouri Grape and Wine Board declared June to be the month for Vidal Blanc so Missouri wineries are featuring this versatile varietal for the entire month of June. The Vidal Blanc (vee-dahl blahnc) grape thrives in the state and is used to make a range of wines, including semi-dry to dry, dessert and sparkling. Vidal Blanc dry to semi-dry wine with fragrances of a fresh summer garden is especially nice to sip while relaxing on the deck on lovely, breezy days in late spring and early summer. This wine encompasses clean, citrus fruit flavors of apples and lemon. Fresh basil clipped from the herb bed and garlic dishes – particularly featuring seafood and poultry, are wonderful with this wine.
Vidal Blanc happens to be my favorite white varietal wine made in Missouri. It is a cross of the Vitis vinifera Ugni Blanc (French), also known as Trebbiano (Italian), and the French-American hybrid grape Rayon d’Or. I like to pick the grapes because they come in big clusters that are easy to find and cut. In fact, the clusters are so large that they need to be thinned in order to keep from over-cropping the vine. The clusters have thick skins and are resistant to the rots that can be a problem in our climate. In my experience, it is one of the grapes that we do not have to put nets over every year to keep the birds out! That is a big plus in my book. Vidal is very productive and considered a work horse grape that is grown in the midwest and eastern United States as well as in Niagara and Ontario.
During the month of June, Missouri wineries will feature Vidal with wine releases, special events, themed tastings and much more. There are nine wine trails in Missouri wine country. Everyone from wine enthusiasts to those new to the wine scene will have the opportunity to get acquainted with this popular Missouri varietal. Information about all Missouri varietal wines, wineries and trails can be found on the Missouri Wine and Grape Board website, www.MissouriWine.org.
Direct comments or questions concerning this column to Marilyn Odneal via email at MarilynOdneal@missouristate.edu; write to Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, 9740 Red Spring Road, Mountain Grove, Mo. 65711; or call (417) 547-7500. Visit our Web site at http://mtngrv.missouristate.edu.