Seyval Blanc was created in Saint-Vallier, France (the name Seyval is a contraction of Seyve and Vallier), by crossing Seibel 5656 with Rayon d'Or. Both of these grapes are complex hybrids, which just means that they have more than two different grape species in their lineage. A simple hybrid would be the result of a crossing between two grapes that were of different species and which had no other species in its its parentage. A pure Vitis vinifera crossed with a pure Vitis labrusca would produce a simple hybrid. If we crossed this simple hybrid with a pure Vitis aesitvalis, the resulting offspring would have three different species of grapes in its lineage and it would be a complex hybrid. This pedigree chart (from the publisher of Wine Grapes) shows just how complex Seyval Blanc's lineage is (it is erroneously listed as Seibel 5276 on the chart and is on the third row from the bottom towards the left of page 2). While Seyval Blanc isn't quite as complex as Traminette, there are still many different grape species in its pedigree as well as several vinifera vines as well.
Seyval Blanc is also important as a parent variety and was used to breed Cayuga White, Chardonel, La Crosse and Melody, among others. It is prized by growers and breeders alike for its high yields, disease resistance and its cold hardiness as well as its lack of foxy aromas and flavors. It can generally be found in cool climate areas where other varieties, especially vinifera varieties, are unable to get fully ripe. It was at one time the most widely planted grape in the UK, but its plantings have fallen to less than 100 hectares as of 2009 (which is still 6.5% of the total vineyard area of the country, though). It is also popular in Canada and the mid-western and northeastern United States, where it was once the most widely planted grape in that region (and still may be, but I haven't seen any recent statistics).
|Inside the barn/tasting room|
|Exterior of barn. The wraparound deck is now covered.|
Those interested in learning more about Willow Spring should check out this video feature on YouTube and this article.