New York winery awarded for using Concord grapes

Idol Ridge Timber Lodge Red from Montezuma Winery. Image provided

One of the first wineries to incorporate so called ‘de-characterised’ Concord grape juice into their winemaking has won two awards at the Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition (FLIWC) in New York State.

De-characterised grape juice was launched by Welch’s last year following the development of technology that neutralises the aroma and flavour of Concord grape juice.

Montezuma Winery in Seneca Falls, New York, secured bronze awards for two of its wines; Fat Frog Sangria and Idol Ridge Timber Lodge Red – at the FLIWC.

Phil Plummer, Montezuma’s winemaker, was an early adopter of de-characterised grape juice, and he said the award win not only served as a “powerful proof of concept” for the de-characterised Concord, but it also supported his vision of incorporating it more extensively across the wider Montezuma portfolio.

“These two wines were our first commercially-available examples using de-characterised grape juice as a component and the fact they both came back with a bronze is fantastic news,” he said.

“I think there is scope to extend its use to add colour and texture to lighter hybrid reds or even vinifera varieties such as Pinot Noir.”

Plummer initially trialled the de-characterised Concord across the winery’s rang of more accessable wines, where the addition of Concord helps keep the wines approachable and accessible.

As an east coast winemaker, he also wanted to stay competitive with his west coast counterparts, many of whom have ready access to neutral red grapes.

The price of Concord is more in line with west coast varieties, which are often used to create sweet, fruit-forward and flavoured wines.

De-characterised grape juice was officially launched in 2021 as a new option for winemakers wishing to reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

The commercial venture is the result of a partnership between Welch’s Global Ingredients Group, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and Cornell University, and the concept formed part of a drive to boost New York’s Concord grape industry.

Concord grapes are typically 40-50 per cent less expensive than some wine varieties.

Some winemakers have already produced dry red blends using 10-20% de-characterised Concord as their base.


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