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Beginner: trying to choose varieties

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sremick

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So I live up in Vermont where it can get cold, but luckily there are a number of varieties suited for this area. Being a beginner, I'm trying to settle on 1-2 varieties to plant (if more than 2, please make a strong case). This would be for personal use, only around 40 vines or so. All reds... I'm mostly fond of rich, heavy, dry reds.

At first I was thinking 100% marquette. Then some research turned up petite pearl, which doesn't seem to be well suited as a 100% varietal but blends well and I know a place that does a 75% marquette 25% petite pearl which is quite good, although I'd be willing to go even heavier/richer.

Other varietal options are: frontenac, marechal foch, steuben, and chambourcin.

St. Croix, sabrevois, crimson pearl, and verona are sold out so would have to wait until next year to plant if there was a strong compelling reason to use any of them.

Looking for advice and insight from experienced persons based upon my size, location, tastes and beginner skill level. Reliable, tolerant and forgiving varieties are obviously preferred. Thanks!
 

Bobp

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Id Start with your state extension service.....and stop by any vinyards in the area and find out what they're seeing success with.
 

BigH

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What growing zone are you in?

I recommend that you plant 4 varieties, 10 vines each. Doing so will spread out your harvest so you don't get overwhelmed all at one time. You also don't know which varieties will like your micro climate. Planting multiple varieties is a nice way to hedge. Marquette is a nice grape, but is prone to early budding and subsequent frost damage. Would be very wise to avoid going 100% Marquette. Lastly, I think you will enjoy blending. Some of my best wines have been blends of St Croix, Frontenac, Marquette, and Petite Pearl.

Without knowing anything about the varieties that are suited to your region, I would consider this lineup
  • Marquette (early harvest)
  • Crimson Pearl (mid harvest)
  • Petite Pearl (late harvest)
  • One of the other reds on your list
I wouldn't worry about missing a year on a variety or two. 20-30 new vines will still keep you busy.

H
 

Masbustelo

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An up and coming Northern variety is Verona. We had -30 temps this winter. I am pruning today and there seems to be no damage from the cold whatsoever.
 

sremick

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Thanks. Some good info here. I hadn't considered the idea of planting 4 varieties, but the idea of being forced to plant one row this year and one the next year is appealing.
Crimson Pearl looks promising. And for the "one of the other reds" I had actually homed in on Verona as being my first choice, as it turns out.
 

BigH

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I had actually homed in on Verona as being my first choice, as it turns out.
I intentionally omitted Verona because I don't know enough about your climate.

The breeder of Verona warns that it "needs 170 days growing season and 2600-2800 F degree days", and that it ripens 10 days after Petite Pearl. Might be wise to research whether you will get enough heat to ripen it. I just planted 9 Verona vines last year in West Central Iowa, but don't know much about them yet. I have harvested Petite Pearl on Sept 12 each of the past two years after accumulating 2900 to 3100 GDD, so I am hopeful that I can get Verona ripe.

H
 

Masbustelo

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I also would say that Petite Pearl makes a very good 'stand alone' wine. The grape that has a flaw is Marquette. It is a ruby colored wine by itself (which is very good). The Petite Pearl is very strong on color and I can see why it should make a nice blend with Marquette.
 

sremick

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I intentionally omitted Verona because I don't know enough about your climate.
Maybe this will help:
https://en.climate-data.org/north-america/united-states-of-america/vermont/bristol-19171/
https://weatherspark.com/y/24984/Average-Weather-in-Bristol-Vermont-United-States-Year-Round
https://www.bestplaces.net/climate/city/vermont/bristol
https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/vermont/united-states/3215

Take a look at Noiret.
Had not come across that one. My local supplier doesn't carry them. I did some research, and came across this:
"Surprisingly, even with Noiret’s more labrusca parental background, it is still more cold-sensitive than hybrids like Corot Noir and Chambourcin. Because of the extreme thickness of the trunks, though, in severely cold winters the trunks can be lost due to splitting. After particularly cold winters in the Hudson Valley, Noiret’s grape production is noticeably reduced due to winter damage."
Source: http://www.hvwinemag.com/Grapes_noiret.html

Considering temperatures below 0 are not at all uncommon during our winters (I'm not at all surprised when it gets colder than -15 or more) this grape seems risky. A northern supplier of noiret vines rates it as hardiness zone 5... I'm in zone 4.

I just heard back from a commercial vineyard owner friend of mine less than 10 miles from me. His response: "your idea of 75/25 Marquette/Petite Pearl is the best choice, I think. Go for it!". Hmm.
 

Ike64

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I second what BobP said. Your State Extension or local wineries will most likely provide you with lots of specific advice for you area.
 

HillPeople

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In the White Mountains of NH here. Still a foot of snow in the vineyards.
Frontenac and Marquette would be my top two, but I have some Petite Pearls coming along.
 

sremick

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Heard back from another contact at a commercial vineyard less than 20 miles from me. Here are his thoughts:

"Noiret isn't hardy enough."
and:
"As for Verona, it isn't my personal preference...susceptible to Phomopsis, large leaves, big berries, thin skinned that may be prone to cracking/splitting, late to ripen."
 

Karl

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Chambourcin needs a long growing season, so best to avoid that. Marquette and Foch are early budding varieties, so you need a steep hillside to avoid frost damage. Frontenac is good but very vigorous. St Croix needs a warm summer, similar to many Swenson varieties. Steuben isn't very cold hardy. Might try Regent (red variety) or some of the shorter season French hybrids, or white varieties. Personally i would go with Petite Pearl as i've tried some really nice wine made from the grape grown in Michigan.
 

Karl

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Castel might be another one i would look at. French-American hybrid....if you can find it.
 

sremick

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Just a courtesy update that I ordered a mix of marquette and petite pearl. They are all in the ground and growing, although I have new questions that I've already posted in a new thread. Still working on the trellis... end posts and anchors are in, so basically just need to string the wire.
 
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