The future looks gloomy for Carnelian, which was developed at the University of California to grow in that state’s hot Central Valley. It was thought that this grape – a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, crossed again with Grenache – could produce high yields, while retaining some of the class and flavor interest of Cabernet Sauvignon.

So far this effort has yielded vines with a strong tendency to overcrop, producing wines with good color but lacking any character more interesting than most other grapes grown in the extreme heat.

Several thousand acres of Carnelian were planted following this grape’s release in 1972. Very little new planting has been done since, and acreage has slowly dropped to today’s level of about 1,100 acres. Unless some new form of vineyard management comes to the rescue, Carnelian is likely to remain a mediocre contributor to California’s jug wine production.

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