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Wisconsin Grape Varities

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FechterNector

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I was looking for suggestions on what variety of grape to grow in my southeastern Wisconsin garden. I have 6 Concord and 6 King of The North plants growing at a different location. I managed to get enough grapes for a 2 gallon batch this year, but they are young plants. I have room for 8 plants I was going to plant against one of the garden fences. The fence is south facing in a mostly sunny location. The soil acidity is 5.5ish, sandy with good drainage. I've used Jung's Seed for the previous grape plants. They offer Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, St. Croix, LaCrescent and Marquette for their wine grapes. Any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks
 

StevenD55

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FWIW, the small wine makers that buy grapes around here have been asking for more Marquette grapes.

I am in Colorado in Zone 4b, not quite Wisconsin being much further south. I have Valiants, Frontenac and Marquette. Valiants are a lot like Concord but are very cold hardy. The wine tastes a lot like Concord. The Frontenacs are a few years old and I have made wine from them. These grapes are very acidic and I am trying to blend with the Valiant which are lower in acid for me. The Marquettes produced this year, but are young vines, so I didn't get many. The acidity was lower for these grapes. But, I let everything go to mid to late Sept since weather permitted and got a Brix of 25 on the Frontenacs and 30 :sh on the Marquettes. The latter surprised me. I am going to plant more Marquettes even though the ripening is ahead of the others.



Good Luck!
 

GreginND

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It would help to know what type of wine you like to drink.

Frontenac - red grape - very hardy and will grow well.
In a good year this can make a nice oaked dry red wine. The grape can be higher in acid so acid adjustments and/or sweetening may be needed. Many wineries make a slightly sweet red or a sweeter rose style wine from it.

Frontenac Gris - a delightful "pink/grey" grape that makes a wine ranging from almost a rose color to straw white. For us this grape expressed tropical notes of pineapple and mango. We make a sweeter white wine from it. It also has the same hardiness and high acid as the red frontenac.

St. Croix - a cold hardy red grape. Personally not my favorite, but others like it a lot for a sweet wine. It can come accross vegetative in it's flavors due, I think, to the riparia (wild grape) in its lineage. For my tastes, I would pass on it.

LaCrescent - one of my favorite white wine grapes. It has wonderful fruit and floral notes that makes a nice off dry or sweeter white wine similar to maybe gewürztraminer. The aromas are incredible.

Marquette - This can make a great dry oak aged red. It should ripen well to bring the acids into an acceptable range. It has Pinot Noir as one if its grandparents but has a bit more fruit. It expresses nice red cherry flavors. It is light on tannins so makes for an easy drinking red. It benefits from barrel aging. In some years if the acids are still high it can be sweetened to balance. It does tend to have a little bit earlier bud break than I would like thus it is susceptible to spring frost damage. Up here in zone 4/3 die back on marquette is frequent. But it is one of my favorites for flavor, so that could be worth it.

Someone mentioned Petite Pearl. This makes a very nice wine. The vines are a little slower to establish than others but once growing, seem to do well. This was developed by the private breeder Tom Plocher. He has also released two newer red grape varieties that look even better. They are Crimson Pearl and Verona. I know you can get Petite Pearl vines from Bevins Creek Nursery in Minnesota. They may have the other varieties as well. Also check out Northeastern Vine Supply for cold hardy hybrids.
 
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GreginND

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I should also mention that this past year the University of Minnesota just released a new white variety called Itasca. It looks very promising.
 

FechterNector

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Thanks for the feedback. I'm leaning towards Frontenac Gris.

I seem to get the feeling Concord isn't a very good wine grape? My current Concord plants are doing very well and am debating to add more. I make more fruit wines- I have strawberry, yellow and black raspberry, peach and rhubarb bulk aging until my vacuum pump arrives and have time to bottle and want to get enough grapes for a larger batch in the future.

I know there are a ton of variables, but roughly how many gallons should a grape plant produce when established?

Thanks again!
 

StevenD55

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Nice to be able to make so many varieties.

Regarding Concord wine, it's a matter of what you like. Some people say the wine tastes like grape juice/jelly from Concord. Valiant is similar. But, I know people that like the Valiant wine I've made saying that they like to taste the grapes rather than having it all processed out. And Table Mountain Vineyard in Southeast Wyoming makes a lot of wine from Valiants as well as Frontenac. SO, go by what you like. Perhaps you should try out wine made from a few of those varietals before committing too much.

FYI, I am blending the Valiants with Frontenac because one is low acid and the other is high acid. I think it brings a balance without having to increase or reduce acidity. The acidity preserves wine if I understand it all correctly.

I think yield will be 10 to 15# per vine if the Frontenac Gris are as vigorous as mine. Table Mountain told me they get 20# or better. That's quite a bit more than I expect to get.
 

CTDrew

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Since it sounds like you are interested in Whites I would second Greg's suggestion of La Crescent. A vineyard near me has made some fantastic wines with it and it has stayed in their vineyard even though in zone 6 we have a lot other white varieties that grow well. Also, Andy at NE Vine is a really nice guy to talk with and can probably give you some advice as well as sell you hardy vines.
 

Ernestas

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It seems La Cresent also has no ideal acid level, 10-12g/L or even more. How to manage this for dry wine? Thanks.
 

FrontenacMan

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Just joined the forum and saw this thread. I live in Wisconsin and am growing Frontenac (3 vines) and Frontnac Gris (3 vines). This fall was year 3 and produced enough fruit for 5 gallons of juice each (about 5 bushels of each). I made my own press from a kit available on eBay. The vines are hardy and doing well. I expect to get a greater yield next year. The jury is out as to how the wine will turn out. I think I may have harvested a bit early. It's true that Frontenac are higher in acidity (a curse of cold climate grapes) but it can be controlled with various methods in winemaking. My ph started out at 3.3 but after a malolactic fermentation dropped to a very acceptable 3.6. I purchased my vines from Jung's.
 
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FechterNector

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Update - I decided on La Crescent and Petite Pearl. I planted 12 La Crescent from Jung's and 15 Petite Pearl from Bevens Creek. Bevens Creek was very easy to deal with, shipped quick, was packaged very well and had well established root system. The vines from Jung's were ok, but not nearly as good as Bevens Creek, hopefully they'll catch up.
 

GreginND

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Congratulations. Get them in the ground and off you go! Keep us updated on your progress and let us know if you have any questions about growing/pruning. I would love to see pictures if you are able to post any.
 

FechterNector

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From what I understand I shouldn't prune at all the first year to promote root growth. I'll​ get some pictures up later but they look like little twigs right now! I appreciate your interest and help
 

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