Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson recently paid a visit to the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station in Mountain Grove, Mo. Dr. Wenping Qiu and Susanne Howard accompanied the Congresswoman through the vineyards to showcase the current research being conducted at the Station.
In 2005, Dr. Qiu crossed the Missouri state grape, Norton, and a European wine grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet has long been heralded for producing superior wines, whereas Norton, while also producing quality wines, is better known for its high levels of resistance to several major grape diseases and cold hardiness.
The seeds resulting from this cross were planted in 2006 and today are finally producing fruit. While both wine grape varieties are red, roughly one quarter or 25% of the vines bear white fruit! As the research progresses the hope is that a vine can eventually be selected and propagated that produces a high quality wine while being highly disease resistant. This would supplement the limited number of suitable wine grape varieties currently available to the Missouri Grape and Wine Industry.