The University of Minnesota has released a new cold-hardy white wine grape, named Clarion. 

According to a UMN announcement, Clarion will be an open release, with a limited number of vines available for spring 2023 planting. 

Clarion produces excellent vines, and its grapes continually produce high-quality, dry white wines with attributes of citrus, pear, melon, apricot and chamomile, according to UMN’s Grape Breeding and Enology program. Some evaluators say its wine is similar to Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Southern Hemisphere. 

With a less vigorous growth habit than other cold-hardy varieties, Clarion is easier to manage. Its grape bunches are loose, which can help to reduce disease and insect pressure. Clarion is resistant to downy mildew, a major grape disease in the Eastern United States, according to UMN. 

Bunches of Clarion grapes, a new white wine variety bred by the University of Minnesota, hang on the vine.
Clarion, a cold-hardy white wine grape, is the newest release from the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy University of Minnesota)

Under the name MN1220, UMN researchers have been growing Clarion grapevines for more than 20 years, testing the hybrid vines’ cold-hardiness, disease resistance and other attributes for commercial and backyard cultivation. Test plots with nursery and university partners across the country have been evaluated for more than 10 years, according to UMN. 

Although marginally hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone 4 (Minnesota), Clarion tested well in Iowa and Wisconsin (Zone 5) as part of a national variety testing program. Matt Clark, UMN associate professor of horticultural science, expects commercial as well as backyard growers in Zone 4 to experiment with the grape in small quantities.

“If they’re concerned their site is marginal, putting in a small test plot of vines — and watching the vines for several years — is a great way to evaluate the variety,” Clark said in the UMN announcement.

UMN’s cold-hardy grape varieties have played an important role in supporting grape-growing in cold climates across the globe. Past UMN introductions include Itasca, La Crescent, Frontenac, Edelweiss and Marquette, according to UMN. For more information about Clarion, visit: or email Matt Clark at: