Although we might have been called “crazy” by the (very old) guard of the Willamette Valley for planting a whopping half-acre of Seyval Blanc in our estate vineyard, it turns out we weren’t as heretical as they thought we were. At least not according to an article authored by Kathleen Willcox for Wine Industry Network Advisor, “The Future of Winemaking is Hybrid.”
Willcox, who writes about wine, food and culture, is often featured in Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, and Liquor.com, as well as other publications. Her Wine Industry Network Advisor article discusses why hybrid grapes, as opposed to vitis vinifera, have proliferated on the East Coast. Principally because of the challenges with the climate, but also because successfully growing vinifera requires more chemical treatments than hybrids due to the vines’ greater susceptibility to molds and mildew. Additionally, those varietals tend to be more sensitive to extreme weather events, such as significant cold or excessive heat and humidity.
“Growing hybrids pretty much anywhere is arguably easier. And more eco-friendly,” writes Willcox.
In addition to interviewing several East Coast wineries about their experiences with hybrids, she also chatted with Dave about our Seyval Blanc planting (pictured above) — the first in the Willamette Valley:
The East Coast is hardly the only place hybrids are found. At Bells Up Winery in Newberg, Oregon, winemaker Dave Specter says that their Seyval Blanc is farmed with fewer chemicals than his vitis vinifera. And, the wines have achieved “cult status,” selling out every year.
“We are the only planting of Seyval Blanc in Willamette Valley, and only the second in Oregon. It’s not only a part of our plan to diversify our vineyards and enable us to react to climate change, but also part of our larger push to appeal to younger, more adventurous consumers,” he says.
As for those vitis vinifera purists? They’re not just relegated to the Willamette Valley. “Some regions have yet to open the door to hybrids; they’re banned in France in wines with appellation names, but for a certain type of American winemaker — and consumer — that kind of prohibition only makes them more enchanting.”
Consider us enchanted. Read the full article, here.
Our 2020 Seyval Blanc is sold out now, but we’re anticipating in excess of 50 cases based on the amount of fruit currently hanging on our half-acre of Seyval vines (pictured above). It will be released in spring 2021.