A hardy new red wine grape has been introduced in America's Atlantic Northeast.

The dark-berried Abundance (left) has been specially bred to survive the region’s cold winters and offers a ‘working man’s red’ alternative to more fragile classic varieties.

The hardy grape was developed by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, a world-renowned fruit-breeding centre at Geneva in Finger Lakes.

Known simply as GR7, the grape was created in 1947 by crossing the American-French hybrid Baco Noir with the black table/wine grape Buffalo.

After decades of planting and testing, Abundance was unveiled this week at the State’s annual grape industry trade show, Viticulture 2003. Professor of grape genetics Bruce Reisch, who helped develop the grape, dubbed it the working man’s red.

Abundance does not belong to the Vita vinifera species – which includes classic wine grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon – but neither is it a member of the more common Vita labrusca that flourishes in the region.

As well as being able to survive extreme cold, Abundance is resistant to virus infections that plague other red varieties in the area. It has moderate acidity and cherry-berry flavours and is best suited to blending and making light wines. As its name suggests, it is also capable of higher than average yields.

Abundance is the fifth wine grape to be introduced by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in its 125 years. The launch follows Traminette, a white Gewürztraminer hybrid unveiled in 1996.

Written by Liz Hughes21 February 2003