“Mesa grapes": Table grapes as an alternative crop in Western Colorado

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2024: $65,552.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2027
Grant Recipient: Colorado State University
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Bradley Tonnessen
Colorado State University
Dr. Charlotte Oliver
Colorado State University


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    Table grapes are a niche crop in the United States, accounting
    for 36% of all grape production, primarily in California. 
    There is increasing producer interest and consumer demand for
    local table grape production, especially certified organic. 
    Small and large fruit producers alike in Western Colorado are
    hoping to enter this market.  Based on exploratory surveys,
    table grapes fetch a high price per pound and depending on the
    variety, can perform well in our high elevation environment,
    suggesting it can be a viable alternative crop for this region
    for both economic and agronomic reasons.  Producers are now
    asking for support for selection of the best varieties for both
    environmental conditions and consumer preference.  Due to
    our alkaline soil, irrigation constraints, and unpredictable fall
    and spring freeze events, selection of cultivars ideal for
    Colorado is a complicated endeavor.  At the Colorado State
    University’s Western Colorado Research Center at Rogers Mesa, we
    have collected four years of preliminary data on 26 table grape
    varieties.  Using this knowledge, we hope to revitalize this
    experiment with newly released varieties and the top performers
    from the previous trial.  Additionally, with cooperation
    from our participant producers, we will measure plant health,
    crop yield, cold tolerance, and consumer taste preferences on
    using established vineyards.  We will share these results
    and facilitate open collaboration between producers interested in
    pursuing this unique alternative crop.  This project will
    help to expand the options for producers in our unique climate
    and inform the public on best organic practices for table grape

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Objective 1: Perform data collection on table grape
    variety performance and vineyard management on participant
    producer land and a newly established variety trial at the
    Western Colorado Research Center at Rogers Mesa. 

    Project Objective 2: Collect consumer preference data through
    hosting taste tests at public and CSU-led events.

    Project Objective 3: Create and distribute research results,
    training modules, and educational seminars via social media, fact
    sheets, workshops, videos, and conferences.

    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.