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Villard grapes are French wine hybrid grape created by French horticulturalist Bertille Seyve and his father-in-law Victor Villard (father and grandfather of grape breeder Joannes Seyve). They include the dark skin Villard noir and the white-wine variety Villard blanc with both being members of the Seyve-Villard grape family. Villard noir is a cross of two other French hybrids, Siebel 6905 (also known as Le Subereux) and Seibel 7053 (also known as Chancellor) created by physician and plant breeder Albert Seibel. Like Villard noir, Villard blanc was produced as a crossing of two Seibel grapes, in this case, Le Subereux and Seibel 6468.
Villard noir was once widely grown in the South West France wine region with some plantings also found in Bordeaux. The variety reaches its peaked in the late 1960s when there was more than 74,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of Villard noir planted throughout France. (And an additional 21,000 hectares of its white skin sibling, Villard blanc). By 1968, Villard noir was the fifth most widely planted black-skin grape in France and Villard blanc the third most widely planted white-skin variety. However, from that peak its numbers soon declined as French authorities attributed the proliferation of hybrid varieties as a cause of the growing wine lake problem in France and ordered the uprooting of many varieties. Since 1977 Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) laws have forbidden the planting of the Villard grapes in France.
Despite being a hybrid grape variety, plantings of Villard noir are normally grafted onto Vitis berlandieri rootstock. Although susceptible to botrytis and powdery mildew, the vine is virtually immune to downy mildew and can be found in American wine regions on the east coast where mildew is often a problem. Today, is commonly used as a blending grape for table wine or in the production of distilled beverages.
While the Villard grapes were once widely planted throughout southern France, particularly in the wine regions of the southwest, and could be found in Bordeaux as well the vineyards of the northern Rhône Valley, today it is virtually eradicated from France. The few exceptions are isolated old vine plantings in the departments of Ardèche and Tarn which survived the vine-pulling period of the late 20th century.
Today, both Villard grapes can be found in limited plantings in various American wines regions including Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. In New York State, Villard noir has a long history in the Finger Lakes AVA.
Our Vineyard Information
Year Vines Planted: 1995
Type of Wine Produced: Red
Harvest: Late September to Early October
Harvest Quantity: 3.0 tons per acre
Used in our wine Grand Rouge