Alicante Bouchet grape

Alicante Bouschet is a very productive grape that can bear crops as large as 12 tons per acre and must be controlled from its tendency to over crop. In addition to red flesh and juice, it has thick and tough skins. The grape’s acidity can be problematic, too high in cooler regions, too low in warmer ones.

These qualities led to high popularity during American Prohibition, since the fruit shipped well and Alicante’s intense color could stand dilution and extension with water and sugar to make more than double the normal wine gallonage per ton of grapes. Plantings in California reached nearly 30,000 acres by the 1940s, but have since declined to less than 5,000 acres.

Primarily used as a blending grape where color and tannin are needed, only a very few California wineries have offered Alicante Bouschet as a varietal. On its own, Alicante Bouschet generally makes wine that lacks distinction in character and has texture that is somewhat coarse. Although color is its main asset, it is also unstable, browning and precipitating easily.

There are several wineries in California producing Alicante Bouchet including Lavender Ridge Vineyard in Calaveras County. Others use this varietal in their Bordeaux-style blends.

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