If you ever wondered why certain areas in the East grow grapes

Discussion in 'Grape Growing & Vineyard Forum' started by wxtrendsguy, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    If you ever wondered why certain areas in the east can grow vinifera grapes here is your answer and we can thank the Great Lakes, Appalachian Mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean. Across the east if your soil is favorable for grapes and you do not live in the grey or Aqua colored areas you can probably grow vinifera grapes most years...

    Cold.png
     
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  2. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    What are we looking at here? It is not a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map. Link please.
     
  3. AZMDTed

    AZMDTed Just a guy Supporting Member

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    I've had good wine from Virginia and good wine from New York. I live in between those states and even though there are several vineyards here I can say that being able to grow grapes and being able to made a good wine from them are vastly different things.
     
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  4. jgmillr1

    jgmillr1 Junior Member

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    And conversely, this is why the rest of us grow hybrids
     
  5. whackfol

    whackfol Senior Member

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    Would you please share the source? I’d would be interesting to compare areas around the country or world.
     
  6. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    Its actually an output from a weather model. The image is the projected low temperature for a morning in early January of 2018. The source is locked out to the public but I can share an image if its not for commercial gain. In this case I was trying to show everyone how a plume of relatively warmer air forms downwind of the Great Lakes and if you also look you can see the cold air trying to come around the bottom and over the top, however, thankfully for our friends in Virginia the Appalachian Mtns help block to frigid air to the west while the Atlantic Ocean to the east helps warm the coastal plain.
     
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  7. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    I too live in the "between" area and yep there are some pretty bad wines in PA, but there are a sprinkling of good ones but you have to go find them. I could list about 6 or 7 in eastern PA and NJ to try. As far as New York or Virginia always having good wine or even California for that matter well I can guide you to many poor wines from those regions. In recent vintages the Riesling coming from Washington State is far superior to that from the Finger Lakes. You are right though making good wine is an art and there are concentrations of good winemakers and most are not in PA...but give it 10-20 years and a state gov't that is not as hostile to wineries and I think you will be surprised at what PA becomes and even NJ for that matter....
     
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  8. Masbustelo

    Masbustelo Junior Member

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    The headline by the OP is misleading. Apparently he meant to say "Why Vinifera grapes can be nominally grown in fringe areas spread from the Dakotas to eastern Canada." I think it has been arguably established that even though the Viniferas may survive the winter temperatures, the true challenge is to ripen the grapes to proper parameters. It is doubtful that Eastern Viniferas will produce comparable quality when compared to Vinifera grown in optimum conditions. Perhaps a better debate is "How do Vinifera wines grown in non optimum areas compare to Northern Hybrids such as Marquette, Petite Pearl and Verona wines grown in the same areas"? Also how do the Northern Hybrids compare to Vinifera wines from the West coast? I smell some snobbery in the above discussion. Also does bad Pennsylvania wine reflect fermentation management or does it reflect the grapes used? Also why are there a sprinkling of good wines coming out of Pennsylvania? Why are some exceptional? What makes the difference?
     
  9. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    I was not trying to instigate a spirited discussion about the benefits or faults of hybrids....was just trying to show people why vinifera tends to grow in certain areas of the east and not others. If you know anyone growing vinifera commercially in North Dakota I'd love to meet them...they are a brave soul indeed.

    Many areas of France and Germany do not have optimum conditions for grapes. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire Valley and the Alsace region are all susceptible to cold winters, spring frost, summer hail, high humidity, rainfall at harvest and a host of insects and fungal diseases however it could easily be argued that they produce some of the best wines in the world...the question is why. For one they have been at it for 1000 or more years than we have. Also many will say the best wines in the world do not come from optimum growing areas but rather originate in areas at the margin for growing that grape. Many old world wine enthusiasts will say wines from California are fat and flabby with too much alcohol and are far too fruit forward and usually too much oak.

    To address your more local statement about Pennsylvania wines, everything you say to some degree is true. We have very few multiple generation winemakers so experience is lacking. Vineyard sites are often not selected for producing the best grapes but rather based on producing the most grapes. Skilled vineyard labor availability is practically non existent. Land and development costs are high but prices for wine are low. A highly competitive state gov't which is also one of the largest wholesale buyer and retailer of wine in the world doesn't make things any easier.

    But I try to be an optimist, as I do believe the best wines in world can come from marginal areas. Pennsylvania viniferas like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc or a Bordeaux like blend can be contenders when done right in the right year. Of course I would never send away a gift of a nice Napa Cab Sauv or a Dundee Hills Pinot from Oregon. But give this region another generation of wine makers and you are going to start to hear about surprising quality coming from PA. Remember California was also the place that originated such fine wines as Inglenook Chablis in gallon jugs, something called red Burgundy and a number of other questionable selections in their early years.
     
  10. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    And? You simply describe the realities of all who are involved in any and all forms of agriculture.

    And there is a heck of a lot more to the "terroir" of a place that makes a great wine (or corn, or tomato, or wheat) than just the weather. A weather map alone means little.

    Wine has been growing where I live for almost 2,000 years. Age alone does not define greatness. And actually, nor does commonly perceived forms of "greatness" actually define greatness. The Western European wines are held as a "standard" but one could argue that is simply a matter of history, marketing, familiarity, or any number of factors that make these sources the "standard". Georgian Amber/Orange wines use a much older method. Maybe they should be the "standard" for wine from white wine grapes, not a French Chardonnay aged in oak barrels. What any one person or critic considers "fine wine" is often driven by these headwinds. But who is to say they are actually "correct"? They may simply be tradition. And maybe they are wrong.

    There is a saying: Wine grows where corn doesn't.

    In other words, yes, one can grow wine in a deep loam soil, ideal for corn, but a vine will over vegetate. Yet to say the best wine comes from "margin" areas is a bit misleading. As above, the wine that people "decide" is great wine comes from providing that vine growing conditions that balance its needs and the wine maker's needs. For example, the wine maker wants a certain brix. And that requires certain environmental conditions to achieve. And that may be in a generically "marginal" area for corn, but it is, actually, ideal for wine production; not margin at all. Such terms really only matter when based on perspective.

    Meh. See above. Grow what is appropriate for the local terroir (and that may be a hybrid), and drink what you like. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
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  11. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    Well this discussion has morphed from the OP which was just trying to show using a graphic why most European vinifera varieties cannot grow in many areas of the eastern USA due to winter low temperatures and why certain areas that you'd expect to be cold can grow those varieties. My bad for not saying that better at the onset. Its great to see such passionate responses from everyone on the rest of the topics discussed and I hope all your vintages are great. Happy holidays everyone.
     
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  12. sour_grapes

    sour_grapes Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

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    FWIW, I enjoyed the graphic!
     
  13. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    +1, classy response.
     
  14. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    Interesting, as I thought I did address that.

    So perhaps I was not clear myself.

    To be succinct: I don't fully agree with the premise because, while grossly correct (one does not grow vinifera in Greenland) it is too simplistic in its generic conclusion. Which was my premise.

    Not to belabor that point, but to maybe clarify, as I see this premise, if based only on the map you provided, it is somewhat flawed because the map is only considering one variable, and it is also of too coarse a scale to define all such regions where grapes "should" or "should not" grow. Briefly, It is more complicated than that. Thus this map only shows a gross map of possibilities. On the ground it is more complex. No one should just look at such a map and start a winery someplace just because that spot is outside the gray or aqua region.

    Thus, such a map scale misses all the other multiple local and regional micro-climatic factors et al. (e.g. terroir, mentioned above) that make all the difference, and matter to allow grapes to grow and ripen in some areas but not others. And those local factors are what answers the question why grapes might actually grow in some areas this map says they should not or why lousy wine is created where the map says they should grow fine. Just knowing "if your soil is favorable for grapes and you do not live in the grey or Aqua colored areas" is not necessarily enough.

    My "passion" here is less about growing grapes, and more about considering such data also on local scales, where it may not be always "correct" compared to the overriding local factors.


    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  15. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    @balatonwine, you and @wxtrendsguy can both be correct here.

    wxtrendsguy is using weather data to support a general conclusion related to climate. He's using inductive reasoning to arrive at general conclusions about vinifera. You can argue whether he has enough weather data points to arrive at that conclusion, that is a valid argument. But regardless, he is presenting specific January weather model results to support the general conclusion about where vinifera grapes can be grown.

    I agree that knowing about microclimates, specific soil types, and local regions is important when growing vinifera. However, it is not possible to deduce that from his weather data, so a critique of his premise on this basis isn't really valid.
     
  16. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    I have a map of the eastern seaboard. It shows ocean depth based on a measurements and a model. So I say that it is okay to float your boat in areas where the depth from the gross data and model says it is deep enough for your boat's keel.

    Is it valid for me to say that? Given shifting sands and other factors over time? A new sailor may run into catastrophe following my model alone. Rather than actually paying attention to local conditions such as his instrument's depth readings.

    For such reasons I reject your suggestion that my premise is not valid and that I can not critque his, because his error is one of scale which is certainly a valid point of critique. And my premise is that one must include local conditions I am including such scale. That is all. Which is why I critique the conclusion made by the original post that "if your soil is favorable for grapes and you do not live in the grey or Aqua colored areas you can probably grow vinifera grapes most years", as dangerous. And suggest that to others that they may waste time or money following such as simplistic statement.
     
  17. wxtrendsguy

    wxtrendsguy Member

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    Bingo! Well said Stressbaby...I am not discounting any of the facts that are being brought up by Balatonwine about local influences, soil, exposure, terrain, aspect, slope, precipitation, distribution of precipitation in the growing year and etc. In my region as it is in all other regions its all about the proper vineyard selection and adapting the right viticulture practices for the region which differentiates between high quality wines and lower quality wines. Just because a grape vine can grow in a region does not mean its the best place in the world to plant a vineyard. Same goes in California or any other wine growing region in the world. Just because it can grow there is not enough of a reason. However, there are some regions of the world in general where vinifera grapes should not be planted since they cannot survive the cold winter weather which was the generalized point I was trying to make.

    On a separate topic Balatonwine I am interested in learning more about a grape you are growing, the Italian Riesling. Locally we are a little too warm and humid in the summer for Rhine styled Riesling leading to fruit rots later in the season. Does your region have significant humidity in the summer? A thicker skinned Riesling or one with a more open cluster would be ideal for us. Cheers
     
  18. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    You're reading way too much into this post. It's informative and interesting, and it supports some general conclusions. That's it. @wxtrendsguy never really intended for this to define what to grow where. Nobody is making a decision about which varieties to grow based on this post - so it is hardly "dangerous," nor is it likely to "waste of time or money."

    We should all be as gracious as @wxtrendsguy on internet forums.
     
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  19. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    You may know "Italian Riesling" as the German name "Welschriesling". Much like Pinot gris is known as Pinot grigio if from California. Quite frankly, it is not a very good varietal wine. A table wine at best. And it has tight clusters. But it is a huge producer. 10 tons per hectare easy. Which is why it was so widely planted during communism : Quantity over quality. IMHO. If you are looking for more an open cluster white wine from Hungary, there are better options, such as Hárslevelű or Furmit. Or a generic Muscat if you like a very sweet wine. For what is is worth, Muscatel sweet wines were the most popular wine at our yesterday's Christmas social.

    If you want a really special loose cluster white wine, there is Kéknyelu. But this vine has a sex life, you have to plant the male vine.

    But again, does not mean any of these are appropriate for your location terroir. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  20. balatonwine

    balatonwine The Verecund Vigneron

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    You may be right.

    But that does not make me wrong. :)


    I graciously say the earth is flat. Should that then go unchallenged? :h

    But you and wxtrendsguy seem kind. For that reason, I concede. :b
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
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