Cayuga White is a mid-season ripening wine grape developed from crosses of the hybrids Schuyler and Seyval Blanc at Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. It is a hardy vine with some bunch-rot disease resistance. In warmer climates it should be picked at lower sugars to avoid overripe, sometimes labrusca-like, flavors; however this has not been observed in cooler climates such as the Pacific Northwest, where desirable, Riesling-type flavors are tasted in fully ripe Cayuga fruit. Picked at the proper time, it can produce a very nice sparkling wine with good acid balance, structure, and pleasant aromas, or a fruity white wine similar to a Riesling or Viognier. One advantage of Cayuga is that, if harvested unripe (e.g., in a shorter summer in cool climates), it can still make a good wine, albeit one with more green apple flavors in that case.
This grape, when grown on mature vines in fertile soil, can produce astonishing yields. If allowed to set fully on thirty-year-old vines in Aurora, Oregon, Cayuga's yield has been measured at over 13 tons per acre, though in that case a "green harvest" (removing much of the fruit before the final phase of the ripening cycle) is advised, so that the vine can more fully ripen the remaining fruit.
Cayuga is relatively easy to make wine from. In cooler climates, it retains enough acid that a residual sugar level is advised, in order to achieve balance in the palate.
In one informal survey of grapebreeders who grow hybrid grapes and make wine from them, Cayuga was the most-popular answer to the question "Which hybrid grape is the easiest to grow and make good wine from?"
<Hybrid Grape Analysis for the Pacific Northwest, by Kenton Erwin>
- Cayuga White, the first of a Finger Lakes series of wine grapes for New York, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station paper
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