The Amazing Rubired Grape – Third Most Planted Varietal in California

Have you ever heard of the “Rubired” grape?  Last year at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium 2010, I was able to taste some wine made from this grape.  However, it is rare to find it used for wine.  In general, Rubired is used to produce grape concentrate, but can also be used as a blender in red wines.

At this year’s Unified Conference 2011, the audience was amazed to hear that Rubired (17%) is now the third most planted grape in California behind Cabernet Sauvignon (23%) in first place, and Chardonnay (18%) in second place. 

Rubired is a hybrid grape developed at UC-Davis in the 1950’s.  It is a cross between Alicante Ganzin and Tinta Cao.  It is very easy to grow and does quite well in the hot terroir of California’s Central Valley.  Due to its relationship to Alicante Bouschet, it produces a dark red/purple juice which is used to add color in many jug wines.

When I tasted it at Unified last year, I found it to be full-bodied with ripe berry fruit, and big soft tannins.  In fact, I thought I was tasting an Alicante Bouschet.  If you find any wine made from this grape, let me know.  It would be interesting to try in a campus tasting.

9 thoughts on “The Amazing Rubired Grape – Third Most Planted Varietal in California

  1. I think this variety is all about industry and making ‘Grape-a-hol’ and little to do with tasting or terroir, right? It’s produced as a bulk wine as you indicated, but I suspect it’s being used as a significant input with medium-priced wines to stretch their volumes.

  2. Do I have Alicante bouschet or rubired?
    Men working in a vineyard torn out to make room for housing allowed me to take cuttings which are now leafing out.
    Before potting cuttings I ate the grapes and drank the juice and drank some of the young alcoholic wine I made without added yeast, sugar or anything.
    The vineyard was on Santa Fe St. (or Ave.) south of K St. in Visalia, Ca.
    It was torn out last year, 2016.
    How can I determine, find out what varity wine grape I have? When I squeezed a cluster of grapes in my hand it appeared that my hand was bleeding profusely. The vine itself was about 6 or 7 inches in diameter at ground level. The dozen or so cuttings will be for my personal use.
    Thank you, Aileen Cummins, 585-752-5344

    • Aileen, A very good question, but unfortunately I cannot answer it without seeing the vines. I would recommend that you reach out to the Viticulture department at either UC Davis or CSU Fresno. I’m sure that someone there can help you. If the grapes are as red as you describe, then it could actually be either variety. Best wishes, Liz

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