Need advice on selecting varietal to plant

Discussion in 'Grape Growing & Vineyard Forum' started by peterseng, Dec 7, 2018 at 2:59 PM.

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  1. Dec 7, 2018 at 2:59 PM #1

    peterseng

    peterseng

    peterseng

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    This fall I made wine from fresh grapes for the first time, and I fell in love! I have decided that I want to plant some vines in my yard so I can make wine one day from grapes I raised with my own hands. I don't have room for more than a dozen or so, and I am having some trouble deciding what to plant. I would love to plant two varietals (one for red wine, one for white). I researched growing requirements of several varieties that I was considering, as well as climate statistics in my area in an effort to narrow the field, and I am now concerned that I may not be able to grow wine grapes at all.

    I live in Jim Thorpe, PA, and the statistics I've found for my neighborhood are as follows:
    Growing Degree Days average near 2300-2400 (through 10/31)
    Average Annual Rainfall approx 50 inches (US average is 39)
    Average Annual sunny days = 196 (US average is 205)

    So it seems that my neighborhood is rather wet, less sunny than average and has a relatively short growing season. As a result, I plan to do what I can for drainage with gutters and/or trenches (too small a plot for drain tiles - and i'm not sure I want to invest that much $ to plant 10 vines). I also realize I will probably do better with a variety that ripens more quickly, as my growing season is less than ideal. I also know that there are successful vineyards in areas with shorter growing seasons, so I am certain that there must be SOME variety of grape from which I can make a decent wine. I could use some suggestions/advice from some of the more experienced folks here in deciding what factors are most important in selecting the kind of grape vine to plant.
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Dec 7, 2018 at 4:05 PM #2

    sour_grapes

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    Some common advice is to check with local vineyards. I just checked out a couple near you, viz., Big Creek and Blue Lizard
    http://bigcreekvineyard.com/dryred.html
    https://www.bluelizardwinery.com/index.php?id=9

    They both offer Chambourcin (a hybrid variety) and Pinot Noir; Big Creek uses some other hybrids, too (Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Regent). You should give them a call. In fact, Blue Lizard has a "Vine Club" where you can get actual experience in the vineyard:
    https://www.bluelizardwinery.com/index.php?id=3
     
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  3. Dec 7, 2018 at 4:39 PM #3

    peterseng

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    Vine club, eh? That sounds worth checking out! I will also check some of the climate data for the locations of those two vineyards to see how much they vary from my location.

    One factor I've found in my climate research is that in PA there are apparently "micro-climates" that vary quite a bit even within a few miles of each other. There are several vineyards growing Chambourcin quite successfully (which made me think I might have success with that vine) only about 30 miles from me. When I saw that my GDD was so low (a site I researched recommended a minimum of 3000 GDD to mature Chambourcin) I looked at these vineyards and their area had a 15 year average GDD of just under the 3000 goal. I hadn't expected such a dramatic climate difference within such a short distance! I also wonder if I may also be putting too much stock in such data...
     
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  4. Dec 7, 2018 at 4:57 PM #4

    ibglowin

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    You left off one of the biggest factors in deciding what to grow in your neck of the woods. That being average low temps during the Winter months. I would go with a Cold Hardy Hybrid. There are some fantastic ones out today that are rivaling Vinifera (both red and white). Poke around on the Double A Vineyard website as they carry just about all of them. You do need to place an order within the next month or so or many of them will already be sold out for next Spring.
     
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  5. Dec 7, 2018 at 5:21 PM #5

    peterseng

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    Regarding average low temps, my area has an average low in January of 18 degrees. What information I am lacking is just how often it gets cold enough to damage the vines I am considering. I am familiar with the Double A website, and have already spent a decent amount of time browsing the many varieties they have available - but I have only found a handful that seem like they would be a good match for my particular "micro-climate" and have not yet tasted any wines made with them, so I am hesitant to plant them at this point. I will definitely try to order soon, though, if they will be selling out soon, as you say. Thanks for the heads up on that. Mike!
     
  6. Dec 7, 2018 at 6:43 PM #6

    sour_grapes

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    Wow, that is a shockingly big difference. I fully admit I only looked on the map as the crow flies!
     
  7. Dec 7, 2018 at 7:05 PM #7

    GreginND

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    I would recommend Crimson Pearl. It is an amazingly complex grape and will even grow in North Dakota.
     
  8. Dec 7, 2018 at 9:09 PM #8

    peterseng

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    I was shocked too. On the plus side, your advice gave me the idea of looking at climate data in the area of some of the local vineyards and then see what they are producing. So far one of the two you mentioned (Big Creek) has climate conditions that are pretty similar to my own (they are only about 15 miles away) and they have a tasting room that is literally walking distance from my house, so I think I may know where my family can find me tomorrow afternoon ;)
     
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  9. Dec 7, 2018 at 9:10 PM #9

    peterseng

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    Thanks for the suggestion! I've never heard of that particular grape so I will definitely check it out. Have you cultivated and made wine with those?
     
  10. Dec 8, 2018 at 2:36 PM #10

    Newine

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    Itasca for a white, pretty new release, I am adding 25 to my little vineyard next year. Good numbers reported.
     
  11. Dec 8, 2018 at 4:53 PM #11

    tom6922

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    I live in southeast Michigan and have been growing reds (Frontenac, Marquette, Noiret, Cab Franc) and whites (Seyval, Lacrescent, Traminette). Marquette has a number of great advantages over the other reds: very fruitful and much earlier ripening (so less bird and bee damage, less disease damage, less tending, less spraying, etc). Among the whites I like Lacrescent, which ripens several weeks later than Marquette but earlier than the other whites. But if you have limited space, I would go with just one varietal. Each varietal adds complexity and extra work, you want this this to be enjoyable, not a job.
     
  12. Dec 9, 2018 at 12:24 AM #12

    BigH

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    According to what I found, your last spring frost is around May 26, and your first fall frost is around Oct 6. That is a pretty brief growing season. The GDD tool that I use shows that you normally accumulate about 2300 GDD by the middle of September. This year you had 2500 by then. The USDA map looks like it has you in zone 6B, -5 to -10 F.

    My advice is to look for an early ripening white. I harvest my Brianna and Edelwiess around 18 and 15 brix when they have gotten 2100-2300 GDD of sun, and chaptalize them to the desired sugar level. They are more winter hardy then you probably need. That doesn't hurt anything, but it does allow you to research other varieties. Definitely look for early ripening though.

    For a red, I think Greg's suggestion of Crimson Pearl should be the first variety you look at. Marquette might be another one to consider. It ripens earlier than most other varieties, but it does need a little sun to get the acids down. Again, both of those are more winter hardy than you probably need. Getting fruit ripened seems like it will be a bigger concern for you. With that in mind, I would personally avoid these varieties: Petite Pearl, Verona, and anything with Frontenac in the name.

    Good luck
    H
     
  13. Dec 9, 2018 at 12:38 AM #13

    StevenD55

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    FWIW Here in Colorado we are likely drier in the summer. So mildew is rare. But as for cold hardiness, I haven’t had many problems with Cold weather varieties even thru the -10 to -20 stretches. I have Frontenac, Marquette, Valiant, Aurore and Noiret. A few I have are even Zone 6. My neighbors have Foch, Chardonnel and Limberger that do well of the varieties I think are worthwhile anyway.

    The biggest problem with the extreme cold-hardy grapes (Valiant and even Marquette) is that they try to bud too early. Then the frost gets them. The varieties that bud just a little later seem to have a better chance of working through Spring freezes.
     

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