Cabernet Franc Day

In the Wine Light – Cabernet Franc Day

In the Wine Light is Cabernet Franc Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated annually on December 4th.


According to the Cab Franc Day website, Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in the Libournais region of southwest France sometime in the 17th century, when Cardinal Richelieu transported cuttings of the vine to the Loire Valley.  December 4th is the anniversary of Cardinal Richelieu’s death which is why we celebrate Cab Franc Day on that date.

Parent Grape

Cabernet Franc is also the parent grape of at least three other Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère. It is also the parent to an obscure Spanish variety known as Hondarribi Beltza found mostly in the Basque Country.

Plantings Around the World

In addition to its native Basque region in France, Cab Franc is planted elsewhere in France in Bordeaux and most famously in the Loire Valley.  There are also significant plantings in the Italy, Spain, Chile, and the US.

Cabernet Franc has gained a large footing on the East Coast of the US.  It’s popular in the Finger Lakes and on Long Island in New York as well as Virginia.  Cab Franc continues to gain footing in North Carolina as well.  It’s one of our favorite varieties and pairs wonderful with North Carolina BBQ, either Lexington-Style or Eastern-Style.  

In North Carolina

One of the largest planting of Cabernet Franc in North Carolina is the six acres at RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville.  We reached out to winemaker Steve Shepard for some thoughts on growing Cab Franc in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. Steve tell us, “Cab Franc has been a work horse for us in that we utilize it in many ways.”

RayLen 2019 Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Steve goes on to tell us that RayLen’s vineyard is planted with 3 of the highest rated French clones, 214, 327, and 312. He gave us more detailed information on each clone:

  • Clone 214 is known to express raspberry and violet flavors and recommended not to exceed more than 50% of the planting.  
  • Clone 327 recommended not to exceed 30% of the planting as it produces structured and powerful wines.  Our block is 52% clone 214 and 48% clone 327.  The fruit from these clones are used to produce Cab Franc varietal, and in blends Carolinius, Category 5, Eagle Select.
  • Clone 312 is known as a higher yielding than average so it sets the stage for a Rose.  Our Cab Franc Rose is produced from this block, clone 312.
RayLen 2018 Cabernet Franc

RayLen 2018 Cabernet Franc

Steve mentions that “Generally, Cab Franc in the vineyard preforms better than most other vinifera reds.”  It is more tolerant of heat, wet and disease.  In the winery, on bountiful years, Steve is able to separate the clones throughout the aging process before he establishes the final blend.  He says, “It’s interesting to note the unique characteristics of each and how they knit together.”

In addition to RayLen’s Cabernet Franc varietal, Cab Franc based blends, and Cab Franc rosé, there are many other delightful Cabernet Francs in the state.  Just a few of our favorites include (but not limited to) Cab Francs from Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, Hanover Park Vineyard, Burntshirt Vineyards, and Childress Vineyards.

Do you have a favorite Cabernet Franc?  How are you celebrating?

#CabFrancDay #CabernetFrancDay #InTheWineLight


Posted by Joe Brock

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