Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Zweigelt Project

The Zweigelt Project is an experiment which began in 2008 – by neophyte grape growers Bob Bedford and Linda Pierro, publishers of Hudson Valley Wine Magazine; and Paula Cereghino and Fred Smith of Cereghino Smith, award-winning Hudson Valley artisanal winemakers – to answer a simple question:

Can Zweigelt be successfully grown and produced in the Hudson Valley?

Why Zweigelt?

Well, Zweigelt is one of Austria’s most widely-planted red grape varieties– a crossing of the more well-known Blaufrankish and St. Laurent. It is widely grown throughout Austria, where it was developed – it has high yields, is adaptable to cold-weather conditions and is relatively resistant to disease. And importantly, it buds late, and ripens early – just perfect for the limited growing season in the Hudson Valley. The result is a full-flavored and well-structured grape that produces light to medium-bodied wines, with deep red color, gentle tannins, and spicy, red plum/red cherry and black pepper tastes, with a Barbera-like acidity. Because almost three-quarters of Austria’s total wine production is consumed locally, very little Zweigelt makes its way to the U.S. We think that’s a shame.

Why here, Why now?

1) We live, breathe and work in the Hudson Valley. 2) The climate here resembles that of some of the regions in Austria where Zweigelt is grown and thrives. 3) The first crop of Zweigelt from our vines planted in 2008 in our experimental vineyard in Greene County produced an unexpected and promising harvest in 2010, and 4) Cereghino Smith crafted a luscious fruit-forward, low-tannin, small-batch wine from these grapes that we know we want more of, and we think you’ll love. But more on that later.

What is the Zweigelt Project?

Was the 2010 harvest a fluke? Will our vines continue to thrive in the Hudson Valley, and produce healthy yields? Does the wine have aging ability?

We invite you to follow our progress in the vineyard and in the wine cellar, watch as we toil to plant more vines, grow and harvest the grapes, and craft and bottle our own Hudson Valley Zweigelt wine. And with the dearth of information available this side of the world, there’ll be a lot of experimenting going on. In between all the hard work, we’ll share photos, stories and tasting notes as we delve further into the mysterious, little-known Zweigelt grape and the potential of growing and producing Zweigelt here in the Hudson Valley, and in the U.S.

And that, simply, is the Zweigelt Project.

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