More vines of Frontenac are growing in Minnesota than of any other variety, due to overall viticultural performance and excellent wine quality.
Frontenac is a very cold-hardy vine and has borne a full crop after temperatures as low as -30° F. The small black berries are produced on medium to large clusters that are usually slightly loose. As a result, berry splitting and bunch rot have been rare, even in wet years. Frontenac has been a consistently heavy producer and sometimes requires cluster thinning. Frontenac is vigorous and usually becomes established quickly.
Frontenac ripens in late midseason, and it is important to let the fruit hang long enough to fully mature, to reduce the acidity to workable levels. This is less of a problem when Frontenac is grown further south, under warmer conditions. Fortunately, the pH does not often rise to dangerous levels. Frontenac is a good sugar producer with 24-25 Brix not uncommon. Frontenac wine typically has a pleasant cherry aroma with berry and plum evident in many cases. The herbaceousness of its wild riparia background is almost entirely absent. The color is usually a garnet red, but can become excessively dark with long periods of skin time. Malolactic fermentation is essential to reduce the wine’s high acidity. Tannin levels are usually relatively low.
Frontenac is very disease-resistant, with good resistance to powdery mildew and near-immunity to downy.
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