Below are some of the wine varieties we offer at Prairie Orchard Farm:

WHITE GRAPES

Frontenac-Gris is a white wine version of Frontenac, introduced in 2003. It started as a single bud mutation of Frontenac, yielding gray (thus named gris) fruit and amber-colored juice. Frontenac-gris is quite vigorous, extremely cold hardy (below -30°C), highly resistant to downy mildew, and resistant to powdery mildew and botrytis. Frontenac-gris wines present aromas of peach and apricot with hints of enticing citrus and tropical fruit. A brilliant balance of fruit and acidity creates lively, refreshing wines. Unique and complex flavors make this an excellent grape for table, dessert, and ice wines.

Brianna is a very cold hardy white grape developed by Elmer Swenson. The seeded grapes are greenish gold to gold when fully ripe in late August to mid-September. This variety can be used as a flavorful table grape, pressed for grape juice, or used to make a semi-sweet white table wine. The vines grow quite large, from 36 inches to 5 foot in length. Wines made from Brianna grapes are balanced with pineapple nose and flavor. These grapes are also used in flavorful white juices.

Valvin Muscat is a hybrid grape variety for use in white wine production. It was developed by grape breeder Bruce Reisch at the Cornell University New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and released on July 7, 2006. Valvin Muscat is the result of a cross between Muscat Ottonel and hybrid Muscat du Moulin. It has distinct Muscat grape characteristics with color ranging from white to near black. It almost always has a pronounced sweet floral aroma, and is widely grown for wine, raisins, and table grapes.

Edelweiss is a very winter-hardy wine grape variety derived from crossing the Minnesota 78 and Ontario grapes. It was developed by Elmer Swenson in 1980 in cooperation with the University of Minnesota. The clusters are large and loose, weighing a pound or more. Early picking of the grape is essential for making a wine. Should Edelweiss not be harvested early, the completely ripe flavoring becomes too strong for the palate of most people. Edelweiss was first developed as a table grape. Edelweiss has a strong resistance to grape disease and fungus and can tolerate -35°F winter temperatures.

St. Pepin is a modern hybrid variety of wine grape, primarily grown in North America. It produces grapes suitable for making fruity white wines similar to Riesling or as a base for blended wines. The grapes also make a good seeded table grape for eating. It has the benefits of early ripening and when hardened properly in the fall it is winter hardy to at least -25°F. As such it is best suited to growing in climates similar to ours in Illinois. St. Pepin was produced and patented by Elmer Swenson circa 1970. It is a hybrid of the male Seyval blanc crossed to a seeding of Minnesota 78 by Seibel 1000 (aka Rosette). Unlike most modern grapes it is a pistillate female and needs to be planted next to male vines from a close sibling variety to achieve pollination.

RED GRAPES

Marquette was released in 2006 and is an exciting new red grape variety from the University of Minnesota. It combines high levels of cold hardiness and disease resistance with excellent wine quality. Viti culturally, Marquette has proven to be an outstanding vine. It has been consistently hardy in USDA Zone 4 areas, and resistance to common grape diseases is very good. Shoots typically have two small to medium clusters each, thus avoiding the need for cluster thinning. Marquette ripens in early mid-season, typically mid-September and offers a moderate yield.

Marechal Foch is an inter-specific hybrid red wine grape variety. It was named after the French marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) who played an important role in the negotiation of the armistice terms during the closing of the First World War. The berry size of this variety is very small, and is used to make a variety of styles of wine, ranging from a light red wine similar to Beaujolais, to more extracted wines with intense dark "inky" purple color and unique character, to sweet, fortified, port-style wines. Wines made from Marechal Foch tend to have a strong acidity, aromas of black fruits, and in some cases, toasted wheat, mocha, fresh coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, and musk. Highly extracted, and more carefully produced wines made from older planting of Marechal Foch have recently been successfully marketed as more expensive niche cult wines with a dedicated following.

Frontenac is a French-American hybrid grapevine that is a result of research and cross-breeding by the University of Minnesota. The vines produce loose clusters of dark, highly acidic, high sugar berries. Frontenac is quite vigorous, extremely cold hardy (below -30°C), and resistant to many mildews and molds. It has been used for the production of dry red wines, rose, as well as for fortified wine in the style of port. The wines produced from Frontenac typically present aromas of cherry and other red fruits. Although the grape has a very short history, its promise as a wine grape for very cold regions has led to many planting across the northeastern part of the United States and Canada, and is the most widely planted wine grape