Species: Vitis vinifera
The variety was first cultivated in south-west France and is now mainly used for brandy, including Cognac and Armagnac. It is also used as a supplementary variety in the white wines of Bordeaux and other districts. First brought to California in the 1850s, Colombard was grown for years in the Central Valley as “West’s White Prolific,” after George West, a prominent San Joaquin County wine grape producer. Acreage was very limited until the table wine boom in the 1960s–70s when it became the state’s most widely planted variety. Plantings peaked at 90,000 acres in 1987, with the greatest concentrations in the San Joaquin Valley. The California plantings are still the largest in the world, followed by South Africa.
In early summer, sudden heat spells may cause shoot tips to die back and occasionally damage developing clusters. Colombard is medium-late in fruit ripening, although the fruit holds well on the vine until rainfall.
In warm to hot climates, Colombard is a versatile variety of high productivity and good fruit composition (high acidity and low pH). It produces a fruity, crisp wine in cool districts and has sufficient acid for a balanced and distinct varietal wine or for use in blends in warm districts. Colombard is used widely in the San Joaquin Valley as a blending base of white table and sparkling wines and in the production of grape juice concentrate and brandy.
Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis is the source of Foundation grapevine material for the nursery industry, and the staff can provide information about possible sources for obtaining this stock.
The National Grape Registry (NGR) contains information about varieties of wine, juice, and table grapes, raisins, and grape rootstocks available in the United States. Growers, nurseries, winemakers and researchers can find background information and source contacts for those grape varieties in this single convenient location.