What You Need to Know About the Grape Varieties of New England
New England continues to gain popularity as a producer of quality and award-winning wines even though the entire region is still in the early days of winemaking and production. With wine production only officially beginning in Connecticut in 1978, we’re still learning about what’s possible in growing wine in the Northeastern United States. After all, the oldest winery in the United States was founded in 1839, compared to the oldest winery in the world, founded more than 6,100 years ago in Armenia.
Climate determines what grapes can be grown in a particular region. These details inform what wines are produced in that region; sharpening your knowledge of the grape varieties of New England can also help provide a better understanding of what types of wine are produced in the region and why.
Connecticut AVA Areas
As we mentioned, climate plays a large role in what types of grape varieties can be grown in a region, but there are other factors such as type of soil. Grapes need sun, warmth, and water to grow, and as everyone in New England knows, summers are never as long as we wish they were. This affects the grapes that can be grown and which can be used for wine.
The New England wine region is split into different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), each with a different growing environment for grapes.
Connecticut, where Jonathan Edwards Winery is located, is split into two AVA regions: the Western Connecticut Highlands AVA and the Southeastern New England AVA (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island).
Grapes Grown in Connecticut
According to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the wine grape varietals grown in Connecticut are:
- Aurora White
- Cayuga White
- Villard blanc
- Baco noir red
- Marechal Foch
- Villard Noir
These grapes are both Vitis vinifera and hybrid, meaning they can produce many different wines that were previously made only in other parts of the world. These include Riesling, Sanit-Croix, and Cabernet Franc. Many wineries continue to experiment with growing special world blends, such as Chenin Blanc.
It’s an exciting time for wine production in New England, as winemakers make bold production decisions and utilize the region’s natural cold, maritime climate. The New England wine region contains millions of acres of land, allowing for a broad range of grapes to grow. Join us in our tasting room to enjoy a glass of New England Wine with your meal, or join our wine club to explore the diversity of wine made in Connecticut and the surrounding area.