The white grape variety is an interspecific new variety between Concord x Cassady (unknown Labrusca - open flowered). Synonyms are Niagara Branca, Niagara White, Virginia Seedling and White Concord. There are genes of Vitis labrusca and probably Vitis vinifera included. The sire variety was selected by the breeder H. P. Cassady in 1852. The hybrid was crossed in 1866 by Claudius L. Hoag and B. Wheaton Clark in Niagara County, New York State. She was crossing partner in the three new breeds Bluestar, Monticello and Niabell (Early Niabell). The commercial introduction took place from 1882 onwards, with the complete right of distribution being with the specially founded "Niagara Grape Company". Through targeted marketing, she quickly found distribution in the Northeast and later also in the American Midwest. After the Second World War, it finally became the most widespread hybrid in the USA.
The medium to late-maturing, high-yielding vine is very susceptible to fungal diseases such as black rot, downy mildew and black spot disease, but is resistant to frost. It produces floral, rather acidic white wines with a pronounced foxtone, which is why it is usually blended with neutral wines to soften the taste. It is also often used for the production of table grapes and grape juice.
The variety is cultivated in many US states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia. The total area under cultivation here is 1,210 hectares. Other stocks are mainly in São Paulo, Brazil (3,177 ha), as well as Japan (128 ha) and Canada (155 ha). In 2010, Niagara occupied a total of 4,670 hectares of vineyard area with a strong downward trend (ten years before, the figure was 15,343 hectares). This puts it in 114th place in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: UCDAVIS - Foundation Plant Services