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Cornell unveils new white wine grape

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  • Staff Report 

After over four decades of development, Cornell University grape breeder Bruce Reisch has introduced Aravelle, a hybrid white wine grape. The grape was created by crossing Cayuga white and Riesling grapes, with the Cayuga white also having been developed at Cornell in 1972. Aravelle was officially unveiled at the Business, Enology and Viticulture (B.E.V.) NY 2023 conference in Syracuse.

Aravelle combines the qualities of Cayuga white, which is resistant to bunch rot and mildew diseases, and Riesling grapes. Initially dubbed ‘New York 81,’ growers began to show renewed interest in the hybrid grape when they discovered its increased resistance to rot compared to Riesling grapes. This resistance allows for a more relaxed harvesting schedule during wet seasons, as there is less urgency to harvest grapes immediately upon the appearance of rot.

The process of breeding new grapes, such as Aravelle, takes years of testing and patience. Thousands of seedlings may be planted and tested for up to eight years before the best ones are propagated into new vines with the desired traits. After years of development, the vines are sent to be propagated and planted in nurseries. In the case of Aravelle, partner New York nurseries shared test vines with interested vineyards, with some vineyards potentially producing a labeled Aravelle wine as early as next year.