"Very few grapes are as deliciously versatile as Vidal Blanc. Yet most of its fans are in the dark about its history and pedigree. Vidal Blanc is the basis of some of Maryland’s best-known white wines. A French-American hybrid, this grape was developed in the 1930s by French breeder Jean Louis Vidal to combine the flavor and complexity of Trebbiano (a.k.a. Ugni Blanc) and the cold-hardiness and overall reliability of Rayon d’Or. The grape is thick-skinned, which helps it stay disease-free even in the wettest growing seasons. Vidal Blanc has a reputation of being easy to grow and very productive…sometimes yielding up to eight tons of fruit per acre.
“""Vidal has been the workhorse of our vineyard,"" says Jennie Schmidt, a commercial grower in Sudlersville in Queen Annes County. “The variety is more disease resistant and capable of producing higher tonnage. As a hybrid, Vidal generally demands less of our management time than the vinifera varieties.” The Schmidts sell Vidal grapes to numerous Maryland wineries. “Vidal is definitely in our vineyard expansion plans.""
Aromatic with lively acid, Vidal Blanc makes an excellent off-dry wine, but can also be used to create late-harvest and ice-style wines.
“Vidal Blanc is one of the most versatile grapes that are grown in Maryland,” says Al Copp of Woodhall Wine Cellars in Parkton. It makes a very nice, fruity sweet wine, an excellent dry wine that pairs well with food.
“It’s great all-around – but it really excels in late harvest and ice wines,” says Copp."