Kesselring-Kindred ND Native Wild Grape Vineyard: Establishing Wild Grapes in a Vineyard Setting

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Jason Kesselring
Kesselring Vineyards

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Education and Training: networking, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: riparian buffers
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal summary:

    For the past four years I have been growing wild grapes native to the Sheyenne Valley and the Dakotas. My initial experience was on a smaller scale with individual plants being grown indoors and outside on my family’s farm in Kindred, ND. From there I established a small vineyard of 250 wild grape plants using traditional trellising and pruning methods. The wild grape plants I grew initially came from South Dakota but have not been productive. The vineyard I plan to establish will use plants taken from the Sheyenne Valley close to my family’s farm in North Dakota. These plants I believe to be better suited to North Dakota’s harsh winters.

    I have attended several grape growing conferences hosted by the Minnesota Growers Association as well as conferences hosted by the University of Minnesota. These conferences have been useful in educating me in traditional commercial vineyard practices. I have also worked in tandem with North Dakota State University’s grape program.

    My project is now to create a second wild grape vineyard for commercial production which will in turn supply South Dakota based Valiant Vineyards and other interested wineries with wild grapes for their wines.  I will take 1 acre of land from my family’s farm, fence it off for deer protection, and plant 250 wild grape plants with various experimental trellising systems and pruning methods, with the assistance of North Dakota State University.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    My main focus of research will be pruning and trellising methods. There will be three types of trellising methods used:
    1) Four Arm Double Kniffin- similar to a two wire fence this method offers ease of pruning and harvest as well as giving higher tolerance to winter injury.
    2) Geneva Double Curtain- similar to a clothesline this method allows for longer cordon link meaning a greater yield of fruit as well as great Sun exposure.
    3) Customized Trellising- This will include modified versions of the first two methods listed as well as a few more experimental trellising systems that allow trying to recreate the natural environment that wild grapes thrive in.

    There will also be three pruning methods that will be utilized:
    1) Traditional- This methods leaves 40 buds total on the plant. This is generally considered the most optimal amount left on a commercial grape plant.
    2) Modified- This will allow for 80-120 buds on each plant.
    3) Minimal Pruning- This method will allow for most buds with pruning being done only for general maintenance for sun exposure and fruit harvest. What I will be looking for is the effect of pruning and how it effects fruit production.

    Currently there is a market potential to sell wine made from native wild grapes, but very little information on growing wild grapes. Most just request access to private land or pick the fruit that the birds don’t get first on public land. I am hoping to establish a native wild grape vineyard through traditional growing techniques for commercial winegrapes or variations thereof. North Dakota State University will be used as a resource for guidance in experimental design, data collection, and statistical analysis methods. Both the North Dakota and Minnesota grape growers associations will also be used as resources as well as a means to disseminate information gained from this research.

    My intent with this project is to establish a vineyard using wild grapes native to the area. My research has found very little information on growing wild grapes using traditional techniques. With this project I hope to establish and document techniques for growing wild grapes in a commercial vineyard. To establish this I will monitor the following:

    • Temperature
    • Different trellising system costs
    • Water use
    • Bird/Pest control
    • Fruit ripening (specifically in relationship to sun exposure and air flow)
    • Pruning methods (spur vs. cane)
    • Insect control
    • Disease control
    • Weed control
    • Fruit yield and fruit quality

    All of this will be documented by pictures, videos, and record keeping. This information will then be made available on my blog for education and discussion.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.