Erbaluce is an ancient Italian white wine variety suitable for a variety of wine styles, including sparkling, dry, and passito. It is considered vigorous and productive in Italy, where it is traditionally long-pruned and grown on a pergola. In a San Joaquin Valley trial where the vines were trained to bilateral cordons, spur-pruned, and supported with a two-wire T-trellis, the yields were low, but fruit and wine quality were high. Simulated mechanical pruning greatly increased yields without affecting soluble solids accumulation, so adequate yields should be attainable by adjusting pruning practices.
Origins and History
Erbaluce is an ancient variety, first mentioned in the 17th century, and thought to have originated in the Canavese region of Torino, Italy.
Erbaluce is a vigorous variety with thick skins that amber when ripe. According to Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo (VCR, 2022) Erbaluce has medium-to-large, cylindrical, winged clusters of medium compactness. The spheroid-shaped berry has an amber-yellow color, sometimes with pink shades. It has a transparent skin with persistent navel, and the pulp is slightly crunchy and simple tasting.
Erbaluce in the Parlier trial had outstanding fruit quality, but insufficient yields, except when subjected to simulated mechanical harvest (Table 1). Italians consider Erbaluce to have good, if variable, yield potential. The discrepancy may be due to differences in cultural practices, particularly with respect to training, trellising, and pruning. In Parlier, Erbaluce was first trained to bilateral cordons, spur pruned, and supported with a two-wire trellis, whereas that variety is traditionally “long pruned” and supported on an overhead pergola system in Italy (VCR, 2022). When subjected to simulated mechanical pruning in Parlier, yields were greatly increased.
Erbaluce is a versatile variety, used for dry, sparkling, passito, and even botrytised, wines in Italy. Grapes grown at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center in Parlier, CA (Fresno County) made excellent aromatic dry wines.
VCR, 2022. Erbaluce. https://www.vivairauscedo.com/en/product-sheet/erbaluce/
Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York