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The Connecticut Wine Trail is one of the most exciting and fastest growing wine regions in the United States. Despite its rising popularity in the New England region, not many know what grape varieties grow well in Connecticut's climate.
Up until 2019 we have planted 8 grape varieties at Aquila's Nest:1860 red vines and 2055 white vines, in the 7.5 acre vineyard of the 40 acre farm.
Among our grapes, many belong to the hybrid varieties, often depicted as the cool climate solution to wine growing. The most popular hybrid wine varieties were bred in experimental vineyards at universities such as Cornell and University of Minnesota. The benefits of these hybrids is cold hardiness and disease resistance. They aren’t GMO’s, rather more like new apple varieties created by mating different species together.** To know more about the different grape varieties planted at Aquila's Nest, scroll below to see a short description of each type.
In "The Making" blog series, we will delve into the details of how the vineyard was built up in the past few years, solely driven off the effort and dedication of two people who love the farming lifestyle and the vineyard life.
Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French wine grape variety grown in most wine producing nations. The variety is most famously known as the third grape of Bordeaux and can be found in many of the world's top Bordeaux Blend wines. It most commonly appears in blended red wines, where it adds herbaceous accents of tobacco and dark spice. Outside France, Cabernet Franc is grown in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the Americas. In Canada, it is produced as a dry red wine, but perhaps more interestingly as an icewine in Ontario. Further south, in the United States, it is grown in California, Washington State and Long Island, most often to feature in Bordeaux-style blends.
Chambourcin is a purple-skinned, French-American hybrid grape that is more readily available in the United States and Australia than in its homeland, France. It is one of the world's most popular hybrid varieties, and is noted for its distinctive dark coloring and herbaceous aroma. Chambourcin wines are often spicy, with black cherry and plum flavors, and a range of herbal characters. Chambourcin's exact parentage is unknown, but it is thought to be a crossing of native North American vines with a Siebel hybrid. Chambourcin is the parent of the Regent hybrid, which is grown in Germany and Switzerland. The grape's main use is for its color, which is deep enough for winemakers to use it to improve the depth of blended red wines. Chambourcin is also used in sparkling red wine production, and is also found in table wines in Canada, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Marquette is a blue/black-berried variety crossed in 1989 and introduced in 2006 by the University of Minnesota in the United States. Marquette is the cousin of Frontenac, a well-known French-American hybrid, and the grandson of Pinot Noir. Marquette is promising for cold-climate producers in North America. The outcome of Marquette’s crossings is a variety with high sugar levels and moderate acidity. Marquette wines are typically medium bodied, with aromas of cherries, blackcurrants and blackberries. In better examples, more complex aromas such as tobacco and leather may also be exhibited, with spicy pepper notes on the finish. Initial testing suggests that Marquette responds well to oak treatments such as barrel aging and oak chipping.
Baco Noir is a French-American hybrid grape variety that is produced as red wine in the northeastern United States and Canada. New York State, in particular, has experienced considerable success with the variety, as have vineyards further north in Ontario. Baco Noir's origins go back to 1894, when French grape breeder François Baco crossed Folle Blanche with an unknown member of the New World's Vitis riparia family. With its light to medium body, good acidity and preference for cooler climates, Baco Noir is a grower-friendly alternative to Pinot Noir. It does not express the distinctive foxy aromas and flavors of other Vitis riparia varieties, but instead shows rich fruit tones, typified by blueberry and plum.
Riesling is a light-skinned, aromatic grape of German origin which is – if the majority of top wine critics are to be believed – the world's finest white wine grape variety. The Riesling vine holds a very different place in the wine world to such great grapes as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay. While these immensely popular varieties have conquered every corner of the winegrowing world, Riesling is conspicuously absent from the core wine regions of France, Spain and Italy. Its fanbase is smaller, but fervent. Riesling's spiritual home is unquestionably the regions that trace the middle Rhine and the lower Mosel, two of Europe's great wine rivers. Riesling vines cover the steep, slate-rich hillsides above these famous rivers, and are used to make crisp, refreshing wines with pronounced acidity. - We were inspired to grow this variety after trying many Riesling vintages of the Finger Lakes New York State wine region.
Cayuga White is a French-American hybrid grape variety, first bred and now found predominantly in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York State. It is one of the more highly regarded hybrid varieties, giving light, citrus-tinged wines that can come in a range of styles, from dry and sparkling to late-harvest dessert wines. The variety is a crossing of Schuyler and Seyval Blanc, a grape variety that has borne many of the United States' most successful hybrids. Cayuga was first bred on the northern edge of Seneca Lake in 1945, but wasn't released commercially until 1972, when it was given the name of neighboring Cayuga Lake. Nowadays, there are plantings on the shores of both lakes, as well as in other northeastern states like Vermont, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Most white wine made from Cayuga is crisp and dry, although berry skins are thick enough to make late-harvesting an option for winemakers looking for richer, sweeter wine styles. Dry Cayuga wines are generally best consumed within a year of bottling and are not considered suited to cellaring.
Valvin Muscat* was developed in the 1960s at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Valvin Muscat is a complex interspecific hybrid resulting from a cross of Muscat du Moulin and Muscat Ottonel. The cross produced vine is more winter hardy and disease resistant than its pure Vitis vinifera cousins while maintaining distinctive Muscat flavors and aromas. It is an exceptional stand-alone varietal and blending partner. Although Muscat is an ancient family of grapes, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that cuttings of Valvin Muscat were available to growers and research cooperators even on an experimental basis. Valvin Muscat has only been released for commercial propagation since 2006. This relatively short commercial history means no winery has logged generations of experience with it, and commercial plantings aren’t as widespread as more established varieties. As a result, Valvin Muscat producers are a fairly small club. Long known for making sweet and fruity wines, Muscat’s popularity has increased dramatically in recent years. In the Finger Lakes New York State wine region, some growers who are successfully growing high-end vinifera cultivars are nonetheless allotting a portion of their prime sites to Valvin Muscat.
Traminette is a hybrid white grape variety originally bred at the University of Illinois in 1965. It is the result of a crossing between Gewurztraminer and Joannes Seyve, and retains some of its more famous parent's characteristics. Traminette wines tend to be floral and spicy, and are made in both dry and off-dry styles. The variety was initially bred as a table grape, but its high quality saw it quickly find favor as a wine grape in northeastern states like Virginia, New York, and Inidiana. Traminette vines are relatively cold hardy, making them suited to the continental climates of some of the more inland states, and high yields and some disease resistance have made the variety a smart choice for winegrowers in states where the climate is difficult for Vitis vinifera. It is sometimes referred to as a winter-hardy version of Gewürztraminer. The land dedicated to the Traminette variety is on the rise: it is considered to be one of the higher-quality hybrid grapes.
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards is an experience-focused winery providing visitors with immersive experiences that embrace each of the five senses. The focus will be on offering a selection of the finest Connecticut grown wines while connecting visitors to the breathtaking scenery of northern Fairfield County.
Carpe Vinum 🍷