Grape Vine Varieties

I'm looking to start a small vineyard in the spring, with hopes of growing it into a much larger vineyard over time. Soil prep is beginning this fall when the backhoe arrives to dig the planting trenches. The purpose of the vineyard will be 100% wine making. As I review supplier catelogs, I'm overwhelmed by the # of different varieties. Where can I find good information on the nature of particular varieties, and which will perform best in my area?
For those willing to offer advice, my farm is located in central Pennslyvania, in USDA zone 6. It sits along the Susquehanna River, so benefits from the river's protection from early frosts. Good slopes, southern exposure, etc.
Thanks in advance for any advice,
Reply to
One book, not a really definitive one from the scientific perspective, but very good over all is "Vines to Wines" by Cox. He has a number of good tables in which he discusses degree days and varietals that need specific heat and sun. This book will most likely lead you to others.
Another book that may help is Weaver's "Grape Growing" (John Wiley & Sons).
I think that the folks at Cornell would be able to help you. If you cannot reach anyone there try UC Davis in CA. Their enology dept would know how to contact someone in the East relative to this issue.
Reply to
Jerry DeAngelis

I would advise you to contact the Pennsylvania Extension Service. I don't have the number handy but here is the web address for the lab in case you are considering having a soil analysis done:
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If you give them a call, I am sure they can point you in the right direction. I am going to have them do some petiole analysis for me this year since the State of Maryland no longer performs this service.
I live in Central Maryland and I can grow most vinifera varieties where I live. I get some grapes from LaRue Vineyards near Seven Valleys, PA every year. He grows a large variety of vinifera. This location is just across the Maryland, Pennsylvan border and may be a little warmer than your location. He does manage to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon almost every year.
Good luck. I know you will enjoy growing your grapes.
Another Paul
Reply to
Paul E. Lehmann
Here's a link to a nice .pdf doc on growing varieties, etc. in VA. I noted a few references to winchester area,etc. Not *too* wildly different from PA. At elast recommends specific varieties, so it might be helpful;
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All I did was google, "grape growing in virginia" to get this and others. See what you get for PA.
Good Luck,
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Your decision can probably be made easier by deciding what kind of wine you would like to make. If you want to make a sweeter, dessert-style wine, then there are lot of options open in our area (I live just outside of Philadelphia). Grapes grown here on the northeast coast tend to be higher in acid due to our relatively shorter growing season, and if you're making a sweeter wine, the sugar will balance that acidity.
If you're trying to make a dry red table wine, you probably want a variety that ripens relatively early. For vinifera grapes, local vineyards seem to grow a lot of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. You also want a variety that's hardy down to the low temps we see in our area. That's a reason why many vinyards in the area (and local wineries) work with French/American Hybrid varieties. For producing red wines, varieties favoried in our area are Chambourcin (probably the most prevalant), Chancellor, and Florental. Also DeChaunac, which produces a good wine, but not up to par with the others. There are other hybrid varieties for red wines, now less popular, that produce wines considered to produced wines not quite up to par with the others, such as Baco Noir and Foch. These and other hybrids tend to start exhibiting the "foxy" (think Concord grape) taste in their wines (a characteristic of native american grape varieties).
Several years ago, I planted 6 vines in my garden: 2 DeChaunac, 2 Foch, and 2 Rougeons. I've had a lot of uneven ripening, and a lot of competition from the birds and other animals. In order to get enough grapes for a couple gallons of wine, I pick the grapes like berries, and freeze them. I made a light red "social" wine with just enough sweetness to offset the acidity from them, and I have the novelty of occassionally serving up a wine that I "grew myself." If I knew what I knew now when I planted the vines, I would have chosen Chambourcin, Chancellor, and/or Florental varieties.
Last year, I made 5 gallons of Chambourcin wine and 5 gallons of DeChaunac wine with grapes from a local vineyard, Vigna Del Monte in Easton. Check out
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I posted my story of producing the Chambourcin to this newsgroup on 8/15, if you'd like to read that.
I know less about local grapes for white wines, as I prefer reds, but popular hybrid varieties are Seyval, Vidal, and Vignoles. Jon
Reply to
Jon Gilliam

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