Ruby Cabernet


Ruby Cabernet was created in 1936 by Dr. Harold Olmo at the University of California, Davis.  The grape is known as a red Olmo grape variety that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan.  Dr. Olmo created this grape hoping to attain the superior quality of Cabernet wine and the ability to resist heat like the Carignan grape.

While the grape was not introduced into the public until 1948, Ruby Cabernet was the most successful hybrid created by Dr. Olmo.  Besides being the creator of Ruby Cabernet, Dr. Olmo is also credited with creating the first vine quarantine area in the United States.  This quarantine area greatly allowed winemakers to import vines from Europe, Australia, and other regions.  This helped to expand wine making in California.

Places It Is Grown

Ruby Cabernet has been able to find a home outside of the United States.  In Australia there are small amounts grown in the Hunter Valley and Murray-Darling region.  While some of these producers bottle the grape as a varietal, most of the production ends up in nondescript blends.

Ruby Cabernet is said to be grown in Chile, but no labels admit to its use.  Argentina produces Ruby Cabernet and primarily uses the grape in blends.  Ruby Cabernet was thought to have the ability to take hold in South Africa but problems arose with fruit set and limited success has been seen.

Fortunately, Ruby Cabernet is still being grown in California.  It can also be found growing in Texas, Nebraska, Missouri and New Mexico.

Properties Of Grape

The fact that this grape proved itself as a varietal is a testament to the skill of Dr. Olmo.  There is a relatively high degree of difficulty in hybridizing grapes.  It is estimated that for every successful grape hybrid, there are thousands of failed attempts.

Ruby Cabernet was originally developed for California’s hot climate.  However, it has been found to produce better quality grapes and resulting wines when grown in cooler climates.  Ruby Cabernet produced in hotter climates can frequently have qualities akin to a plum or a raisin.  In cooler climates, when yields are limited, the grape produced can lead to deeper, more complex wines with flavors similar to darker cherry and dried fruit.  There can also be hints of some earthy flavors.  Most noticeable will be the tannins, and that is why Ruby Cabernet is most often produced into cheap bulk red wines or added to other bulk red wines to add color and tannins (especially to wines high in alcohol and acid levels to help give more balance).

Ruby Cabernet possesses a vigorous vine due to its engineered resistance to disease and rot.  The vine produces a lot of fruit per vine with grapes that grow in smaller, tighter bunches making them resistant to wind sheer and heavy gusts.  While this abundance in fruit is great for use as a blend, production of a finer, nuanced and complex wine is more challenging.  With a large number of grapes competing for water and other nutrients the characteristic cherry flavor is understated and high alcohol levels are present.

In order to mitigate the negative aspects of production, vineyards limit irrigation, thin the crop, and expose the fruit to the sun to maximize wine quality.  Ruby Cabernet grows well in grounds filled with deep clay loam.   However, it is vulnerable to powdery mildew.

Partnering With Food

Rule #1: Matching the alcohol level and body of the wine to the heaviness of the food should make for a proper pairing every time.

If you’re able to get your hands on a really good quality Ruby Cabernet (best of the two worlds; Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan) you’ll want a fuller, richer big dish to match it.  Below are a list of foods and dishes that should pair well with Ruby Cabernet:

  • Chili Con Carne
  • BBQ Beef Ribs
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Duck Breasts with Green Peppercorns
  • Full-bodies Cheeses
  • Grilled Beef Ribs with Bearnaise Sauce
  • Mutton Curry
  • Grilled Ostrich Steak
  • Peppered Sauteed Pork

Restaurants With These Types of Dishes

To view restaurants that serve appetizers, entrees and other dishes that partner well with this grape type, click here….

About americanwinegrape

American Wine Grape Distributors Inc. AKA A. Silvestro Wine Grape, has been in business for over 5 decades. We are wine enthusiasts just like you and want to share in that enjoyment. This is why we are developing a new and exciting platform for growers, restaurants, sommeliers and home winemakers. Our goal is to bring the wine community together and is the driving force behind our new blog.

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