Wines & Vines

February 2018 Barrel Issue

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74 WINES&VINES February 2018 T he Traminette cultivar, a cross of Joannes Seyve 23.146 and Gewürz- traminer, may have been named in 1996, but its commercial roots date back more than 10 years earlier. Two commercial winemakers made an early commitment to the variety, resulting in the first commercial production of Traminette in 1995, the year before it was officially named by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Sta- tion at Cornell University. Today, both wine- makers continue to count Traminette among their wine offerings. Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery Naples, N.Y. One of the early proponents of Traminette was John Brahm, who was then the grapegrowing production supervisor for Widmer's Wine Cel- lars, with vineyards in both New York and California. Brahm recalls his first time tasting Traminette: "It was flowery and fruity, and I believed it could do as well as Riesling in the Finger Lakes climate." Widmer quickly ob- tained some Traminette vines and began its experimental planting. The own-rooted grape- vines were planted on flat terrain, but Brahm was not pleased with the results. Meanwhile, Brahm's family had estab- lished their own vineyards beginning in the 1970s. "We were always looking for new va- rieties to plant," he recalled. He immediately made efforts to obtain as many cuttings as he could and began planting the relatively un- proven cultivar in the late 1980s. Brahm opened Arbor Hill in 1987, and when his Tra- minette started bearing fruit in 1990-91, he added it to Vidal Blanc and Cayuga White in a proprietary blend. The vines, which now total more than 3 acres, were planted mostly on 5BB rootstock, chosen because of Arbor Hill's relatively heavy soil. Some own-rooted vines also were planted so Brahm could make a comparative study. The vines were planted with primarily a 9-foot by 8-foot spacing. As they developed, the vines offered what Brahm calls "a nice balance of leaf and fruit. I don't think we've ever gotten more than 5 tons per acre, and usually (we) get between 3.5 to 5 tons per acre on the grafted vines." Traminette Goes Commercial How two wineries grow and vinify this aromatic white variety By Ray Pompilio EDITOR'S NOTE This is the second installment in a two- part series about Traminette. The first article was published in the January 2018 issue and discussed the origins of this aromatic white wine variety and how it gained popularity in the Midwest and eastern United States. John Brahm (pictured above) grows Traminette at his Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery in Naples, N.Y. KEY POINTS While the variety now known as Traminette wasn't officially named until 1996, John Brahm began to plant that unnamed grape cultivar in the late 1980s. His winery, Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery in Naples, N.Y., produced a white blend with Trami- nette as one of the components around 1990. In New York, bud break on Traminette is usually in late April to early May, and it is harvested in early to mid-October. Brahm gets between 3.5 and 5 tons of fruit per acre, with a Brix level of 20°-22° and TA between 0.8 and 0.95. At his winery in Bloomington, Ind., Bill Oliver planted Traminette for the first time in 2000. Oliver Winery now produces 2,000 cases of Traminette per year. Oliver has found that young Traminette vines are more susceptible to winter damage than vines planted for three or four years. Bud break in Indi- ana averages April 20 for Traminette, while har- vest takes place in late September to early October, with an average yield of 4 to 5 tons per acre and a Brix between 22.5° and 23°. RAY POMPILIO

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