Baco Noir

Baco Noir is a grape, but how much do you really know about it? You're probably aware that we make a wine with a Bulldog on the label. But where did it come from? And how did it end up in the Finger lakes?


This new world variety was developed in 1894 by French grape breeder Francois Baco. It is a cross between Folle Blanche a French vinifera grape, and an unknown variety from the Vitis riparia family. After several attempts, Francois's experiments gave birth to a Phylloxera-resistant grape variety known today as Baco Noir.


However, Baco Noir was not well received by the French government. France progressively increased regulations to discourage use and replanting of these new world varieties. Their crime? They were a cultural threat to the established wine regions. The incorporation of these new world varieties fundamentally altered a flavor profile that has been carefully crafted for generations. Even though these varieties were needed for their natural resistance against a multitude of pests, breaking tradition was enough to keep these vines out of French vineyards.


While most European countries joined forces in prohibiting the use of these new grape varieties, a former editor at the Baltimore Sun newspaper thought the U.S. would be a perfect home for these “misfit” grape varieties.


Philip M. Wagner best known for his contributions to viticulture and grape cultivation, imported Baco Noir cuttings from France in 1939. From that shipment were to come all future Baco Noir vines in the United States. Wagner planted a small vineyard in Maryland only to gain the attention of a New York winemaker who became interested in these new grape varieties.


In 1946 Gold Seal winemaker, Charles Fournier was the first to plant Baco Noir in the Finger Lakes. Other local producers who were reluctant at first (Widmer’s Wine Cellars and Taylor Wine Co.) were impressed by the wines produced form this variety and soon began planting Baco Noir and other new world (hybrid) grape varieties.


We first planted Baco Noir in 1958 when Greyton H. and Walter S. Taylor founded Bully Hill Farms. They saw the potential and viability of these new world varieties in the Finger Lakes. Disease resistance, preference for cooler climates, and good acidity made planting Baco Noir and other new world varieties an easy decision.


The Bully Hill Estate has 15.5 acres of Baco Noir. Produced from some of the oldest vines in the country, our “Bulldog” Baco Noir is medium-bodied with flavors of blackberry, plum, and cracked black pepper. This varietal wine has a special place in the hearts of wine aficionados.