Grape Variety

Kentucky Wineries
Kentucky Wineries
Kentucky Wineries
Kentucky Wineries
Kentucky Wineries
Kentucky Wineries

Grape Varieties

There are thousands of grape varieties grown throughout the world, over 1,300 of which are used for commercial wine production. Grape berries vary in shape and size by variety, but the vast majority of grapes destined for wine are small (1-2 g in weight), round and either yellow or dark purple. Kentucky’s wine grapes are most easily categorized in three groups:

  • Vitis vinifera: One of roughly 60 subspecies of the Vitis genus, the European vinifera is by far the most important (and recognizable) in terms of global wine production. Examples include: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Vitis labrusca: Native to North America, labrusca vines produce grapes that are intensely fruity and, at times, described as displaying foxy characteristics. Examples include: Catawba, Concord, and Niagara
  • Hybrid Grapes: Developed in France in the late 1800’s as an answer to the phyloxxera louse devastating European vineyards, French-American hybrids sought to combine the hearty resistance of the labrusca vines with the aromas and flavor profiles of the European vinifera fruit. Examples include: Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chardonel, Marechal Foch, Traminette and Vidal Blanc
  • Other Fruit: A myriad of other fruits are used for wine production throughout the Commonwealth. Examples include: Blackberry, Blueberry, Elderberry, Peach and Strawberry.