Chapter 2

Wine Grape Varieties

Native American Grape Varieties

Native American grape varieties (Vitis labrusca) have the widest distribution throughout the northern half of the United States. Major producing areas include the Great Lakes region, the Midwest, and eastern states from Delaware to New England. The grape clusters can vary from tight to loose and berries from small to large, depending on the variety. These grapes have a relatively thin skin that is sweet underneath. Because the skin adheres loosely to the pulp, these grapes are often referred to as "slip skin." The pulp is soft and relatively acid near the seeds. These grapes, aside from being very cold hardy, are also more resistant to root rot diseases like phylloxera and even possibly less prone to damage from certain insects.

Red Wine Varieties


Concord is used for the narrow market of sweet, flavorful red wines often marketed as kosher wines. More often it is used for juice and jelly production. Vines are usually trained on a high cordon and long spur-pruned. It produces medium-sized clusters bearing large, blue-black berries that mature rather late in the season.

White Wine Varieties


Catawba is used primarily in white or pink dessert wines, but it is also used for juice production and fresh market sales. It is a spicy flavored, slip-skin grape with a pronounced labrusca flavor and aroma.


The grapes are used for producing dry, sweet, and ice wines but is famed for spicy sparkling wines too. The wine is light pink to white in color. Unlike other Labrusca grapes, Delaware doesn't have Labrusca's distinctive foxiness.

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