Grape variety help please

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Sinoed09

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Hello everyone, I’ve been following these forums for a little while now but this is my first post. I bought a farm in the Georgian Bay Area of Ontario and planted a few varieties this spring - Baco Noir, Cabernet & Vidal but they’re just starting out.

This property hasn’t been “farmed” in close to 40 years but I have a very old arbour covered with vines. I have no idea what they are and have been patiently waiting for them to mature. I’m hoping that someone here might have a bit of insight into what they “could” be?

I’ve sampled the berries and they have the very rich and intense flavour of a red wine with a very tart finish. The initial taste almost reminds me of a Concord.

The berries are smaller than what you would find in a store - maybe half the size and so are the clusters. This hasn’t been tended in dozens of years so I don’t know if that makes a difference

The seeds are quite large compared to the berry.

The growth habit seems to be heading down and they are quite droopy.

I’m attaching a couple pictures of what they look like now and the last one is a picture I took in the spring when the leaves unfurled.
Any idea what these could be?

D1D7D468-24B1-43F3-B9FC-3BB23E10F9E1.jpeg00AB59C9-5B11-49FD-A606-0AC6CEF42E9B.jpegD489ED7B-2509-4781-989F-118B43A79393.jpeg
 
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In the USA many colleges have grape programs and individual states may have grape/wine foundations. Check to see if you have anything like this near you -- you might be able to take grapes & leaves in for identification. For folks in my area, NCSU has a grape extension program.

The growing conditions, including proper tending, can dramatically affect the fruit. Others can advise you regarding how to manage these vines.

I assume you're going to make wine from these grapes? IMO you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Start a thread in which you describe your experience. A fair number of folks have posted this year, with a story similar to yours, so there is interest in how things work out for you.
 

salcoco

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they look like Concord. successful pruning will increase the size of the clusters. normal pruning would require at least 40 buds to remain on the plant. a good size trellis is recommended. fertilize win a general fertilizer in fall and in spring about 1 cup of fertilizer per plant. in fall add fertilizer just after harvest and in spring at bud break. Google trellis for Concord. I recall that special trellis in the East called for a double trellis on a "Y" shaped support with a trellis wire on each leg of the "Y" the grapes were added to the trellis on alternating sides of the wire "Y" thus accommodating the 40 bud requirement. there is a name for this type trellising but I cannot recall it at the present. good luck
 

franc1969

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The grapes aren't as dark as I'd expect for Concord, maybe Isabella? Any idea how old this vine is? That was a very popular grape for table and wine.
 

Sinoed09

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To be honest I have no Idea how old this vine is but I suspect it’s very old. This farm was started by a family about 1880 and stayed with them until the 1960’s. A dutch lady from the city bought it with her husband and they used it as a summer cottage. She didn’t spend a penny here on paint, updates or any of the mechanicals. When I bought it the farm still had an original water pump from the early 1900’s and the water heater was from 1967. It is still decorated with on trend wallpaper and classic linoleum from the 50’s with the original mailbox in the basement.

Almost everything I’ve found here is from the original farming family so these grapes are a bit of a puzzle. They certainly don’t taste like anything you can buy in a store today. I’ve been going through the descriptors for identifying and classifying grapes (which is overwhelming in complexiy) and one of the examples that keeps coming up is Pinot noir. I have no idea if this is correct or if they look like Pinot Noir but these could have been planted in the 1920’s or 1930’s when the son bought it from his dad. I almost feel like I need a reference for “old” grape varieties popular in Ontario or that I’ll have to send a sample to a lab if I really want to know.

I’m fairly certain these would make an excellent red wine, I think for this year I’ll make some jam with them. I’d really love to know what they are but I saw the cost to identify one sample for around $350 - which just seems like way too much.
 

franc1969

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To be honest I have no Idea how old this vine is but I suspect it’s very old. This farm was started by a family about 1880 and stayed with them until the 1960’s. A dutch lady from the city bought it with her husband and they used it as a summer cottage. She didn’t spend a penny here on paint, updates or any of the mechanicals. When I bought it the farm still had an original water pump from the early 1900’s and the water heater was from 1967. It is still decorated with on trend wallpaper and classic linoleum from the 50’s with the original mailbox in the basement.

Almost everything I’ve found here is from the original farming family so these grapes are a bit of a puzzle. They certainly don’t taste like anything you can buy in a store today. I’ve been going through the descriptors for identifying and classifying grapes (which is overwhelming in complexiy) and one of the examples that keeps coming up is Pinot noir. I have no idea if this is correct or if they look like Pinot Noir but these could have been planted in the 1920’s or 1930’s when the son bought it from his dad. I almost feel like I need a reference for “old” grape varieties popular in Ontario or that I’ll have to send a sample to a lab if I really want to know.

I’m fairly certain these would make an excellent red wine, I think for this year I’ll make some jam with them. I’d really love to know what they are but I saw the cost to identify one sample for around $350 - which just seems like way too much.
If it is really that old, then maybe it -is- Isabella. I'd take good photos of everything about the plant- leaves, fruit, juice color. Maybe Double A could identify?
 

Sinoed09

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I think I pulled the grapes a bit early if I was making wine. When they are fully ripe they are almost black. I don’t think there would be much left for me if I waited though, the birds seemed to really enjoy those ones. I don’t have netting and this would be a tough arbour to cover since the vine is everywhere.

The grapes have a pretty tough skin compared to modern ones that are super thin. They also have two large seeds in the middle. I know the introduction of seedless was around 1980’s so if they’re a table grape they are older than that.

I did find a few larger more developed bunches. The larger bunches have a more typical cone shape so this shape is a result of zero pruning or care. Pretty resilient though - perfect grapes and completely disease or mildew free.

I took a couple pictures on a sheet of white paper which shows the difference. I also split a few to show the inside. Next stop will be documenting the leaves very carefully before I lose them for the winter.

Even a bit early they do make an absolutely gorgeous juice for jam. 😊
 

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VinesnBines

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This is an old thread but you might contact Lucie Morton. She is an expert in Ampelography; identification of grape vines by the leaf. Google will give you more information.
 

treesaver

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Many places on old farm homesteads have an arbor such as yours. Seen many that have prolly never been pruned for years or maybe never. Most people are scared to cut them back, and I’d bet the farm that they are concord. First thing I’d do is cut back severely, and establish several main cordons off of the plant or plants. Trim everything back to two buds on each stem off of the main cordons, and you will be amazed at the growth in the spring, and the grapes they will put on. I have about forty concord vines that make a very good wine, and glad I have them.
 

Sinoed09

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I talked to the farmer that used to rent the land from the previous owner and as far as he knows she used to eat them as table grapes once they were ripe. So they could very well be concord - they did make fantastic jam.

The suggestion to cut it back isn’t one that I’d thought about. It makes sense that it would grow like crazy with a huge established root system. I don’t think I’m scared of cutting - overwhelmed would be a better word. The vine is looped multiple times around and through the arbour so it’s hard to know where to begin. I planted some vines last spring like Vidal, Marcheal Foch, Chambourchin, Chardonnay etc. and I‘m interested to see how they do compared to the old vine. Cutting this one back might make better sense when the new ones are producing a bit? Would it produce fruit the same year I cut it back or no?

I wish it was easier to find suppliers here, I really want to put in some Riesling as a test as well. The vine-tech minimum order is 25 vines and I only want about 5, which Is way too much for my plans at this point.
 

VinesnBines

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You may want to start a new thread for pruning advice and post some pictures now that the leaves are gone. Is the vine still on the arbor? Do you want to keep it over the arbor or take it back off the arbor to start over? You need to decide first where you want to end up this year and in the future. You can do major surgery or just start working with what you have. It takes a lot to kill a grape vine.

I've been cutting back some old out of control Concords and it will affect yield. You will still have grapes but much less of a crop for a few years.
 

treesaver

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I talked to the farmer that used to rent the land from the previous owner and as far as he knows she used to eat them as table grapes once they were ripe. So they could very well be concord - they did make fantastic jam.

The suggestion to cut it back isn’t one that I’d thought about. It makes sense that it would grow like crazy with a huge established root system. I don’t think I’m scared of cutting - overwhelmed would be a better word. The vine is looped multiple times around and through the arbour so it’s hard to know where to begin. I planted some vines last spring like Vidal, Marcheal Foch, Chambourchin, Chardonnay etc. and I‘m interested to see how they do compared to the old vine. Cutting this one back might make better sense when the new ones are producing a bit? Would it produce fruit the same year I cut it back or no?

I wish it was easier to find suppliers here, I really want to put in some Riesling as a test as well. The vine-tech minimum order is 25 vines and I only want about 5, which Is way too much for my plans at this point.
Yes, the wood you cut off does not bear fruit, only the new growth on grapes bear this years fruit. I would not be worried to prune anytime from now on, but I’m oldand kinda like doing it in a bit warmer weather than at present! If you want to keep the arbor, just pick out two main trunks per plant, and cut everything back to those.If the whole arbor is covered fro one plant, you can pick three or four main trunks, but chose them so they are spaced kinda evenly across the arbor. Leave spurs randomly spaced off the main trunks, maybe ten to fifteen in number, and trim down to two or three buds. You can cut back all but the last length of the spurs now, but I would leave them a little long now, so that if you have any winter damage on the spurs, you can do the final trim right before bud break! Good luck!
 

Sinoed09

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Thank you! I think I‘m going to try trimming it back when it’s a bit warmer out, -27C is a bit too cold for me right now so I like your suggestion. I don’t think the old arbour is worth saving but I’ll go investigate it when I check out the vine. It looks like a lot of it is buried in the knee deep snow right now but it will melt soon enough. 😊
 

Rice_Guy

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the thread “pruning grape vines” has several photos with mark ups on how to prune for fruit as below. I will emphasize what @treesaver noted, buds on one year old wood will grow new tissue which produces the fruit. , , , someone above also noted it is hard to kill a grape by pruning , ,,,, but if you remove one year buds you can reduce the crop
View attachment 69907
..growers in Europe have vines where the trunk is one hundred years old, the way grapes grow buds are produced on most parts of the plant every year, normal trunk maintenance i keeping the buds from taking off, ,,, a few times in summer wipe off sprouts or if big prune them.
.. I have one wire therefore I are two cordons (arms) going up and down the wire. These again could be a hundred years old in an established vineyard. The cordon itself does not produce grapes. What it does do is hold young wood up in the air and have buds that will sprout in the future. The color is more of a gray and for my age plants could be an inch (fairly old) down to 3/8 inch diameter (fairly young)
.. two year old wood (AKA what grew last summer) is a reddish brown color and fairly flexible and roughly the diameter of a pen. You could accidentally remove all fruit buds and the plant would survive BUT you would not get any fruit this crop year! I typically count two buds and then trim the rest off. ,,, you can always trim back more in summer
.. flowers in many varieties are self fertile, extra buds develop to grow leaves and this years shoots

@NorCal looks like he has a two wire system and based on diameter his trunk and cordons are older than mine. My oldest plants are seven years old therefore there are more experienced growers in WMT.
What else, grapes are weeds that are trying to grow up into the trees. Grapes are very sensitive to 2-4-D therefore don’t spray for dandelions. California is a dryer climate so less spraying than me, fungus loves humidity. We can grow new plants by putting cuttings in soil or potting mix, ,,, from this stage to the first harvest is roughly five years.
View attachment 69912
clusters at flower stage, spraying is needed for black rot lesionsView attachment 69911
this plant should be seven years, note stem and cordons are similar size.
 

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