Russian Kiss has spy-novel story but no secret agents

Russian KissArticle By Paul Vigna

So the story goes something like this: Grape varieties developed and grown for years in the Soviet Union before finally being abandoned, but somehow making their way into the United States by someone who has since died. Some of those grapes made it to Missouri, some wound up on the East Coast, virtually all remaining off the radar of growers and wine consumers.

Listen to winemaker Dave Collins at western Maryland’s Big Cork Vineyards recount the legend on the phone Thursday and it was easy to envision cuttings wrapped in burlap carried by double agents who met somewhere out in the sticks in the middle of the night.

Truth is, Collins isn’t really sure of the accurate story of how SK 77 and XIV 1-86 and other members of their family made it here. What he knows, however, is that he purchased the Eastern European grapes from Maryland farmer Wick Dudley last fall and blended in some other white grapes to come up with a wine that ultimately was named Russian Kiss.

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