Taste & Nose: Vignoles (veen-yoles) are a white grape varietal that can range from semi-sweet to full-on dessert wine, depending on how long they stay on the vine and what the weather was like during the growing season. The grape buds late, which helps it avoid early spring frosts, and has small berries with thick skins. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a sweet white wine drinker’s delight though; the full acidity can help bring out many fruit flavors such as peach and apricot for a nice, crisp white wine. Here is a quick glimpse of our very own Vignoles on the vine and during harvest:
Pairing: Vignoles pair surprisingly well with spicier foods such as curry or Mexican dishes, with the heat from the spice really bringing out the fruit flavors. Pork tenderloin is also highly recommended and you can really “wow” a dinner guest by making an apricot-stuffed pork loin masterpiece with the acid and fruit flavor from the wine dancing delicately with the meat and apricot to create a symphony for at least three of the senses. Yes we tried it, yes it was glorious, and this is what it looks like:
Selection: Why did Dale Hollow choose Vignoles for one of our varietals? Simple- these were the first fully mature vines we had access to. From our original agreement to make wine from Grey Bear Vineyard, we had immediate access to a few acres of Vignoles. It was here we learned pruning, mowing, spraying, netting, tying, harvesting, crushing, and every other verb related to making wine. It helps that this is a popular white wine in Missouri and we hope to continue making the one that helped start it all for us!
Parentage: Vitis vinifera and possibly V. lincecumii and V. rupestris (no idea what these last two are, but it is said to be a descendent of Chardonnay or Siebel 6905; lots of mystery). Maybe a bit clearer is this excerpt from a semi-reputable source I found (Fringe Wine):
“Created in France by a private breeder named J.F. Ravat around 1930. The grape was known as Ravat 51 until 1970 when the Finger Lakes Wine Growers Association renamed it Vignoles…. Vignoles was introduced into the US in 1949 and was given the catchy moniker P17857 (or sometimes 181481). As mentioned above, it was renamed, though I’m not sure what led them to choose the name Vignoles.”
A Bottle? I’ll Have a Case, Please.
Research: From reading about cold hardiness zones, disease resistance charts, and simply touring regional wineries, we had a good idea which grapes we could grow for winemaking. However, this told us nothing about taste. Our mission (and we chose to accept it) was to drink as much local wine as possible and decide on our favorites. We knew which grapes could grow, we just need to figure out which ones made exceptional wine. Obviously, we aren’t looking at copying other vintner’s methods but it’s nice to have a benchmark and they should consider it a compliment.
This spectacular Vignoles is a gold medal winner and is made in a dry style straight from the estate. By the by, when you see “estate” on a label, it generally means that all the grapes are from the same patch of earth from the same year, harvested at the same time, and every bit of the process from growing to crushing to bottling is performed by the same producer. Yes, “performed” is the right word to use, because making wine is a lot like an artist putting on a performance. With award winning wines such as this, you just need to applaud the winemaker.
For all you factoid buffs out there always searching for random tidbits for obscure trivia showdowns; you should know that the August AVA (American Viticultural Area) was the first AVA in the United States. While the jury is still out on whether or not this makes much of a difference in production standards or quality in our country, it is a good idea to be able to identify a wine by a region and it’s neat to know the first one was in Missouri. For more information, here is a quip from the greatest source of internet knowledge since Ask Jeeves, Wikipedia:
“An American Viticultural Area is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States distinguishable by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, United States Department of the Treasury”
Now you know.