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From Grape to Glass

Nothing feels as satisfying and authentic as making your first batch of wine from fresh grapes. And there’s no better time to try it than in early autumn, when grapes all over the country are ripening in vineyards and backyard gardens. There are many kinds of grapes to choose from, depending on where you live. Vitis vinifera is the classic choice for flavor, varietal character and historic authenticity. This famous European wine-grape family includes such renowned varieties as Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the United States, to make a sweeping generalization, V. vinifera grapes thrive in California and the Pacific Northwest. They also grow well in microclimates scattered from New York to the Great Lakes, the Mid-Atlantic states and beyond. Those who live in colder, wetter climates may not be able to find V. vinifera grapes grown locally. Don’t be discouraged. Fine hybrids and Vitis labrusca grapes, which are less susceptible to cold and disease, may be growing near your home. Other options include ordering grapes through your favorite local winemaking shop or from a produce wholesaler. (See