Illinois breeders working on native wine grape varieties for cold climates

on 18/10/10 at 10:37 am

Wine

Photo: David Riecks, University of Illinois

Northern Illinois may not — quite — be the area most wine-lovers think of when they contemplate a nice glass of Merlot. But breeders at the St. Charles Horticulture Research Center in Urbana are busily crossing native grape types with well-known wine varieties to create cold-weather, Illinois-adapted species.

There are in fact already lots of vineyards in Illinois, 90 of them, and 1,500 acres planted in wine grapes. That’s a bit smaller than California’s 531,000 acres, but the folks in Urbana are thinking big.

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