At the tasting room counter we often hear, “Can I taste a Pinot Grigio?” Or, “What do you have that’s exactly like a Cabernet Sauvignon?” These are fair questions, and to some the answers may be shocking:
A little lesson in wine history
If you’re used to drinking wines available at every big box store from Florida to Idaho, you are drinking wines made from what are called vinifera grapes. Vitis vinifera is the Latin name for a grape species with some very famous members; Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are a few examples.
Vinifera grapes have been around for thousands of years so naturally the techniques used to plant, cultivate, and turn them into wine have been thoroughly refined. These Old World grapes are perfectly suited for the climates and soils of Europe and other places where temperatures are mild, like California.
But Kansas is not California
Kansas’ climate is fantastic for producing wheat, soybeans, corn, basketball champs and sorghum but it is not good for producing Old World grapes. In fact, if the temperature in the vineyard ever dips below 10 degrees Fahrenheit -- ever -- vinifera grapes usually won’t survive. If you’ve been through a Midwestern winter, you can see how this would be a problem. A Pinot Grigio grape will not grow here. A Cabernet Sauvignon grape will not grow here. You only have to whisper “Kansas in January" to a Chardonnay grape and it will instantly die.*
We still love wine and want to make it locally, so what do we do?
Hybrid grapes are the answer!
French-American hybrids are descendants of vinifera grapes that have been bred with species native to America that can grow in our colder weather. It takes years (sometimes 25 or more) to breed grapes that are disease, cold and pest tolerant, and still taste wonderful. We’re not talking about GMO – we are talking about actually mating different grape species. NightHawk wines are made with hybrids so that we can grow our wine and drink it too:
Some of our varieties:
Seyval Blanc – a flavorful white with notes of hay, grapefruit and melon. We have two Seyval wines to taste and compare.
Vidal Blanc -- a light, lovely white with just a kiss of oak
Baco Noir – a bold and spicy red (would be great at this season’s last Fire Pit Friday)
Frontenac – one of the grapes in our Sunrise Blush. Try it with different pairings to explore how food transforms the flavors of this blend.
These are only a few of the grapes we use to produce delicious, thoughtful, local products. Come out to the winery and try over a dozen of our wines. Savor the moments with friends and fresh farm-to-table fare from Chef Josh before he’s gone for the season. You can even buy some honey made from our own bees.
We are a local Kansas City area vineyard and winery
We are not the big box guys. If there’s a wine you like, buy it and buy enough (case discounts). What you’re drinking is the direct result of this season’s weather and it will never be the same again. You’re drinking a moment in time, a fleeting memory.
When you come with friends to NightHawk, you’re not tasting the same old White Zinfandel you can get at any gas station in America. You’re on an adventure-- tasting the unique flavor of ever-changing Kansas skies and summers. When you drink NightHawk wine, you’re tasting the Heartland. Drink an adventure!
*not scientifically proven, but possible