The SARE Partnership project entitled: “Development of Partnerships and Support for an Emerging Alternative Crop: Grapes in Northern New England”, has documented
growers’ experience in growing grapes in colder climates, has identified and quantified differences in horticultural performance of grape cultivars at various locations, and has funded, in part, the development of an outreach program for grape growers in Vermont and the region per the objectives of the project. The SARE partnership grant has allowed valuable scientific research with practical applications and immediate importance to take place. The grant has been instrumental in the development of valuable partnerships between growers, industry, and university/extension personnel. The partnership has been a productive collaboration that has resulted in the start of a comprehensive research and outreach program for the development of cold climate grape production in Vermont and the region.
Farmers in Vermont and the region need information on viable alternative crops that will enable them to remain in business and to prosper into the future. Wine grape production is being explored by farmers either as a new crop or as a possible alternative crop in already established farms as a way to diversify and maintain sustainability. Through this project, we started to address the challenges associated with the introduction, cultivation and management of this new crop in the region and started to develop a research and outreach program based on farmer-identified priorities.
Objective 1. Document growers’ experience in growing grapes in colder climates.
Objective 2. Identify and quantify differences in horticultural performance of grape cultivars at various locations.
Objective 3. Development of an outreach program for grape growers in Northern New England.
Project methods associated with Objectives 1 and 2 included grower meetings, workshops/tours, one-on-one grower interactions, website development, newsletter development and publication, on-line evaluations, and grower surveys to obtain input and to distribute information.
Research methods associated with Objective 2 included standard techniques to measure yield, cluster weight, berry weight, soluble solids, and pH as outline in the published thesis.
Research on horticultural performance of select wine grape cultivars at four commercial vineyards was conducted and summarized in a Master Thesis by Ms. Marlys E. Eddy. Yield per vine, cluster weight, berry weight, soluble solids concentration, and pH were measured on a total of nine grapevine cultivars across four vineyards during the previous two growing seasons. Analysis of data showed that the cultivars ‘Arctic Riesling’, ‘Leon Millot’, ‘Frontenac’, ‘La Crescent’, and ‘Prairie Star’ were above the minimum levels for commercial winemaking for the parameters, yield, soluble solids content, and pH, in at least one location during at least one year of the study. The cultivar ‘Traminette’ had yield and soluble solids that were above minimum levels, but the pH was below the minimum level for winemaking in this study. It was found that the soluble solids content and yield of ‘St. Croix’ were below minimum levels expected in commercial production. The cultivar ‘Vignoles’ had soluble solids content and pH within the desirable range for winemaking, but yield was below commercially viable levels. The cultivar ‘Riesling’ did not reach minimum levels for commercial wine production in yield, soluble solids content, or pH over the course of the study. However, it must be stressed that factors such as winter injury, disease, and nutrient imbalances probably had impacted the yield and/or fruit quality of many of these cultivars and better performance is expected with better management and experience.
A summary of “Cold Climate Viticulture in Vermont” and a powerpoint presentation on the same topic were published at: http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/IPM/BERKETTNewEngProceedings2005.PDF
The website “Cold Climate Grape Production”, which is at http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/, was developed and is available to grape growers or prospective growers in Vermont and the region, state and government agency representatives, and other interested parties. It contains a primer on integrated pest management, links to newsletters, and growing season observations from the field. There is an extensive list of links to web pages of industry resources and university and extension information regarding grape production.
Research on horticultural performance of select wine grape cultivars at four commercial vineyards was conducted and published in a Master’s Thesis by Marlys Eddy (Performance of Cold Hardy Wine Grape Cultivars at Four Commercial Vineyards in the Champlain Valley of Vermont: Yield, Fruit Quality, and Bud Survival, University of Vermont, May 2006, 113 pp.).
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Berkett, L.P. 2006. Cold Climate Viticulture in Vermont. University of Vermont Cold Climate Grape Production Program. 38 pp. http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/IPM/ColdClimateViticultureInVermont2005.PDF
Eddy, Marlys. 2006. Performance of Cold Hardy Wine Grape Cultivars at Four Commercial Vineyards in the Champlain Valley of Vermont: Yield, Fruit Quality, and Bud Survival, University of Vermont, May 2006, 113 pp
Cold Climate Grape Production: http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/. Gateway to horticultural and IPM information for cold climate professional vineyardists.
Berkett, L.P. 2006. Cold Climate Grape IPM Newsletter. 8 newsletters and 3 Vinewatch issues, 47pp.
Cold Climate Wine Grape Tour and Workshop, Benson VT (2006)
Berkett, L.P. 2005. Cold Climate Grape IPM Newsletter. 1 issue and 2 Vinewatch alerts, 23 pp.
Cold Climate Grape Production Workshop, UVM Horticulture Research Center (2005)
Berkett, L.P. 2004. Grape IPM News. IN Cold Climate Grape Production Newsletter.
There have been over 3,000 visits to the Cold Climate Grape Production website. The website and other aspects of the outreach program have been rated highly by farmers.
Areas needing additional study
More research is needed on which cold hardy wine grape cultivars are best adapted to Vermont and the region.