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New cold-hardy wine grape debuts at U of M

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Itasca, a new U of M cold-hardy grape
Vines of Itasca, the University of Minnesota's fifth cold-hardy grape.
David Hansen | University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota released a new grape variety Monday called Itasca.

It's the fifth cold-hardy grape created by the school's horticultural department. 

Associate professor Matt Clark said Itasca has a flavor the university's other cold hardy grapes haven't offered.

"It's complex in its flavor profile. It has some minerality to it [and] flavors like star fruit and quince," he said. "Some people have compared it to some Sauvignon Blancs."

Clark said the grape is designed to produce dry, white wines and it should be relatively easy to grow.

"It's going to have good yields," Clark said. "It grows well, it's disease resistant and for me as a grape breeder that's one of the key targets in developing new varieties is how can we make a produce that growers can produce more sustainably."

Vines should be ready for purchase in 2017. Clark says it will be about five years before consumers can expect to see wine from Itasca grapes in stores.