Clarion grape cultivar

Clarion is a wine grape variety suited for making dry white wines.

This variety has been evaluated as MN1220 for more than 20 years and continually produces top quality wines. The grape bunches are loose which can contribute to reduced disease and insect pressure for conventional production methods. Although marginally hardy in Zone 4 (Minnesota), this selection has tested well in Iowa and Wisconsin (Zone 5). With a less vigorous growth habit than other cold-hardy varieties, it is easier to manage in the vineyard. The upright growth habit and good shoot positions make Clarion a candidate for VSP or high wire cordon training systems. Clarion ripens earlier than many riparia based wine varieties, so it will fit in nicely into established harvest schedules.


Clarion will be released as an “open variety” and interested commercial growers and backyard grape growers should contact one of the following nursery licensees to obtain plants for spring 2023 planting:

Nurseries interested in propagating or testing vines for commercialization should contact Adam Bolton in the University of Minnesota Office of Technology Commercialization. Adam can be reached by email at [email protected].


VB86-4 (Seyval blanc × Pinot Noir) × Frontenac (Riparia 89 × Landot 4511)

Fruit quality*

  • Cluster weight: 119.8 g
  • Berry weight: 1.65 g
  • Soluble solids content: 23.84 °Brix
  • pH: 3.19
  • Total acidity: 7.73 g/L
  • Malate: 3.7 g/L

*Data based on harvests 2015-2019 at the Horticultural Research Center, Excelsior, MN

Wine quality

  • Flavor: Pear, citrus, melon, apricot, chamomile
  • pH: 3.25
  • Total acidity: 7.27
  • Ethanol: 13.84%

Vine attributes

  • Vigor: Medium
  • Trellis: High wire or VSP
  • Habit: Good upright growth habit
  • Budbreak: Similar to Marquette
  • Bloom: later than Frontenac or Marquette
  • Harvest: Mid-September; before La Crescent
  • Hardiness: USDA zone 5, marginal in zone 4

Disease resistance

Clarion has moderate susceptibility to powdery mildew and black rot. It has a known resistance factor to downy mildew. Gray mold infections have not been recorded.