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Wine From UF Grape Wins Second International Award

Ed Hunter (352) 392-1773 x 278

Dennis Gray, (352) 374-5769
Jeanne Burgess (352) 394-8627

LEESBURG, Fla. — A dry, fruity wine made at a Florida vineyard from a grape developed by the University of Florida has won its second double-gold medal in three years.

The most recent award, for the 1999-vintage Blanc Du Bois wine, was bestowed by judges at the Florida State Fair International Wine Competition in Tampa. A double gold is awarded when all three judges evaluating the wine agree that it is top in its category, said Jeanne Burgess, a winemaker at the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, where the wine is produced.

Only 19 of the 824 wines entered in the Florida competition won double golds, Burgess said. The 1997 vintage also earned a double gold at the Indy International Wine Competition in Indianapolis, she said.

Blanc Du Bois is made from a hybrid grape developed in 1968 by researchers with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who were attempting to create grapes that would be good for both eating and wine production and would flourish in the Florida environment. The grape was released for production in 1987.

“The continued success of this wine in objective wine competitions demonstrates the high quality product that can be produced from Florida grapes,” said Dennis Gray, a professor of horticultural sciences at UF’s Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka where the grape was developed. “It took more than 16 years from the time that this grape was released from our grape breeding program until it received international acclaim.

“This demonstrates the importance of long-term support of research in order to obtain such stunning results,” he said.

According to Burgess, the success of home-grown wines like the Blanc Du Bois in wine competitions creates a surge of interest among the wine-drinking public that may boost support for UF research efforts.

“Not only does this increased interest help our winery, but it also lends weight to the value of the research that’s going on into grapes and breeding new varieties of grapes,” Burgess said. “UF researchers are doing high quality work, which has become even better since the development of this grape variety.

“They are finding ways to breed and release grapes even quicker than they have in the past through biotechnology and genetic engineering,” she said. “We’re hoping that they will continue to develop and release grape varieties that are even better than the Blanc Du Bois.”