Bob Ross wrote:What puzzles me about the entire French connnection, though, is what difference does it make what the French winemaking establishment decides. If Isabela had been approved in a particular area in France, for example, would that have made the wine more popular in the US?
It's a puzzle for sure, Bob, and I wish I knew the answer. We still see large plantings of Chambourcin in France, as well as Villard Noir, but these hybrids go into anonymous table wines and the grapes themselves never get any credit on the labels. This, to me, is the core of the recognition problem. In other words, most people outside of the growers themselves just aren't told what the grapes are that go into those wines, and it may even be that the wines themselves are not made to estate-wine standards. If this is the case, then the problems faced by viable hybrids are clearly compounded.
Varietal recognition is key. Here in Ontario, Cabernet Sauvignon is a common variety. In my opinion, it only makes a really good table wine in the best vintages; in ordinary or poor years (worse still), it makes green, vegetal wines. BUT - the name cachet is so strong, that everyone and their distant cousins want to grow it.