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Goose Watch Winery was the first in the nation to offer the new wine varietal Aromella, made from a grape developed in Cornell’s breeding program. <b>(Courtesy Lindsay Bolton)</b>

Goose Watch Winery was the first in the nation to offer the new wine varietal Aromella, made from a grape developed in Cornell’s breeding program. (Courtesy Lindsay Bolton)

Goose Watch Winery became the first in the nation to offer the new wine varietal Aromella, and it did so just a year after Cornell initially released the grape in 2013.

The story, however, starts several years earlier, according to David Peterson, who is the president and co-owner of Goose Watch, Swedish Hill, and Penguin Bay Wineries in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Peterson’s commercial vineyards had been cooperating with Cornell on promising numbered selections from the university’s breeding program, with a special interest in hybrids of whites and reds with improved viticultural and or enological characteristics to existing commercially grown interspecific hybrids. One was NY76.0844.24, as Aromella was originally known.

After initially planting it in 2005, the vineyard operation began producing and testing wines made from the new grape. Once Cornell named and released the Aromella in 2013, Goose Watch began commercial production and released the 2013 vintage the following year.

Peterson is happy with the grape and the wine.

He described the grape as cold hardy and relatively trouble-free to grow. “The primary drawback that we have seen is that it is susceptible to shelling when it gets ripe, so our experience is that it is not one suited to long hang time nor is it suited to late harvest or ice wines,” he said.

The Goose Watch 2013 Aromella is “an aromatic semi-dry white wine with distinctive characteristics unlike any other varietal in the Finger Lakes. The wine often shows orange blossom Muscat-like aromas, although some years it leans more towards its Traminette parentage in flavors.As we gain more experience with it, we will likely better understand how weather conditions and timing of harvest influences the flavor profile.”

Overall, he added, Aromella has “proved to have its own distinct varietal characteristics, which fit in well with our ‘path-less-traveled’ approach to varietal wines at our Goose Watch Winery, so we saw a logical fit there.”

– by Leslie Mertz, for Good Fruit Grower