"Psst.. over here." She said. “No, here, taste this.”
"Mmmmm.. that's good. Light fruity easily drinkable red wine. Is that a beaujolais?"
"No, now try this one."
"Mmmm, Dark. Complex, yet jammy, currant and blackberry flavors. Burgundy? Cab?"
"Don’t tell anyone I told you this. But those are from the same grape. The Maréchal Foch grape."
Maréchal Foch, a versatile hardy hybrid grapevine was developed in Alsace by Eugene Kuhlman. Named after World War I French general Ferdinand Foch these vines are as hardy as the General himself.
There are differing accounts as to which vines were crossed to create this hybrid. Some believe it is a cross of Goldriesling with a Vitis riparia - Vitis rupestris cross, the same parents of Leon Millot vines. Others believe that it may be crossed with Oberlin 595. Regardless of its parentage, it is a versatile hybrid.
Although originally developed in France, it is now rarely grown there due to EU restrictions on hybrids. However, due to its extreme cold hardiness (down to -25° F) it is now grown in the harsher North American climates from the Northeast to the Midwest. It has good disease resistance to both downy and powdery mildew.
The berries produced by this vine are an “inky” dark purple. Small enough that birds can eat them; care must be taken to protect grapes. The small grapes in tight clusters ripen early to mid-season prior to the danger of frost damage. They have a strong acidity with mild tannins. The grape stems have strong tannins. The juice from these grapes produce a wide variety of wines that range from light beaujolais styles to heavier, aged burgundy style wines. The acidity of the grapes allows the wine produced to pair well with foods.
Many smaller wineries produce wines using the Maréchal Foch grape. Indeed, they have been key in the development of vineyards throughout the Midwestern United States. Appellations growing Maréchal Foch include: Kentucky, New Hampshire, Quebec, British Columbia, Lake Erie, New Jersey,
Similkameen Valley, Lake Erie North Shore, New Mexico,
Southeastern New England, Cayuga Lake, Lake Wisconsin, New York, Tennessee, Connecticut, Leelanau Peninsula, Niagara Peninsula, Umpqua Valley, Finger Lakes, Maine, Nova Scotia, Vancouver Island, Hudson River Region, Maryland, Ohio, Vermont, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio River Valley, Washington, Indiana, Minnesota, Okanagan Valley, West Virginia, Iowa, Missouri, Ontario, Willamette Valley, Jefferson County, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
Last year, I planted 3 of these vines in my own backyard. They easily survived last year's mild winter and have grown tall enough to be tied to a trellis system. Next year, maybe I'll get a small sampling a fruit.