UA Releasing Red and White Wine Grapes, Unique To Arkansas

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This week the University of Arkansas released two wine grapes.

The U of A Division of Agriculture has been breeding grapes for decades to find the perfect ones to grow in the Natural State.
Now, they’ve come up with a successful red and white wine grape that will soon put local-labeled wine on your table.

Opportunity is a white wine grape, Enchantment is red, and any wine label connoisseur knows the origin of a grape holds a lot of weight.

“We can say this is Enchantment and Opportunity, it’s state grown,” Research Scientist Renee Threlfall said.

So, in a state where folks love homegrown goods, each grape is unique to Arkansas.
Opportunity pays homage to a former state slogan.

“A reflection on the Land of Opportunity, which is the long time motto, or state motto for Arkansas,” John R. Clark//UA Division of Agriculture said.

Enchantment represents the the researchers work to overcome the ever-changing climate of the Natural State.

“You have the color all within the grape and it’s a beautiful, dark, deep, rich color that develops early before the first frost,” Threlfall said.

The ups-and-downs of Arkansas weather is what has made the 30 years of trial and error so tedious, and the success so significant.

“We have  hot summers and cold winters, and so a lot of the varieties that are famous in the world, are not very well adapted,” John R. Clark with the UA Division of Agriculture said.
“Then we have to get through all the fungi and insects that attack here that aren’t as common in places like California.”

Researchers went through hundreds of breeding selections and waited years for those vines to produce fruit before creating a grape that could be mass produced.
The scientists said the composition of opportunity and enchantment makes the grapes ideal for wineries to put their own spin on the decades of work.

“As the growers start growing the grapes in the next couple of years, start developing different styles, so we’re going to start seeing, how best this does in a commercial setting,” Threlfell said.

Like most things, wine gets better with age, and it takes about three years for the vines to start producing fruit, so it’ll be a couple years before you can get your hands on a bottle of Opportunity or Enchantment.

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