Northern vintners work to improve wines' quality

slolee/ via flickr

GARRETSON, S.D. (AP) - A $2.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant has university researchers from a dozen states gathering information about cold-hardy grapes and teaching viticulturists and winemakers in the northern U.S. how to improve their products.
    
The Northern Grapes Project led by Cornell University will work with more than 330 wineries and 1,300 growers from the Upper Midwest to New England.
    
Marquette is the newest of four grape varieties developed by the University of Minnesota to resist temperatures that can dip into the negative-30s. The grandson of pinot noir, released in 2006, has been exciting Northern winemakers since a Vermont vintage won best-in-show red at a 2009 cold-climate wine competition.
    
South Dakota State University viticulturist Anne Fennell says one breeder recently described Marquette as "our first real wine grape."

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