“You are the daughter of that spicy bad girl of the royal vinifera clan, Gewürztraminer, and that dependable hard-working fellow Seyval Blanc. Your father’s restraint and strong backbone are clearly evident, but you do have your mother’s zest for life. You are a perfect spring garden of floral scents whipped by the winds of enchantment; a Princess Diana of the grape world. On the outside, you appear to be the quiet and obeying wife, but on the inside there is a fire that longs to seduce all who venture to know you.” This is poetic description Appellation America provides for traminette, Indiana’s signature wine grape.
Traminette a white-wine grape (cross of Gewurztraminer & Joannes Seyve 23.416 grapes) released by Cornell University’s grape breeding program in 1996 with the comment by Dr. Reisch “It is felt that Traminette will offer further proof that wines made from hybrid grapes need not be inferior to vinifera” was named the Outstanding Fruit Cultivar for 2015 by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
While Arbor Hill Winery in New York claims to be “the first winery in the world to introduce this baby of the famous Gewurztraminer,” traminette is now being produced not only in New York and Indiana, but in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. In California’s renowned grape growing region, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article for the home grower on planting traminette. In the last 20 years it has become an increasing popular American wine and commercially significant.
So why has this grape become so popular? Traminette has the best characteristics of Gewurtztraminer – an aromatic white wine with spicy fruitiness. Traminette has also been shown to be a versatile grape that can be made in many styles – dry, off-dry, and semi-sweet. Traminette can also be harvested as an ice wine, botrytis style or made into a sparkling delight. This is a high-quality hybrid that appeals to the novice or experienced oenophile.
Traminette is great alone or with seafood and chicken dishes. Try spicy dishes with a dry traminette including chili, ginger or curry spices. If traminette is made sweet or aged is develops honey and apricot flavors, perfect for fruit or vanilla cupcakes.
The Napa Valley Wine Academy began presenting this wine grape in its American Wine Specialist Certification Program last year to universal popularity among instructors and students. This year the Napa Valley Wine Academy will begin showing it in their WSET Advanced Sommelier Certification Program. The wine shown is from St. James Winery in the Ozark Highlands AVA of Missouri, but many fabulous examples exist throughout the United States. Easley Winery’s 2014 Traminette was named the Wine of the Year at the 2015 Indy Wine Competition. Other award winning wineries producing traminette have included Goose Watch Winery, Torrey Ridge Winery, French Lick Winery, Carpenter Creek Cellars, Huber’s Orchard & Winery, Mallow Run Winery, Tonne Winery, Two EE’s Winery and Wildcat Creek Winery.
Tell me about other award winners or the favorites you find locally.