Last week our paper on a long-term evaluation of winegrape cultivars suitable for production in Vermont was recently published in the European Journal of Horticultural Science: https://www.pubhort.org/ejhs/83/1/6/index.htm. That research was conducted over eight years and was part of the larger NE-1020 Multistate Evaluation of Winegrape Cultivars and Clones and USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (#2011-51181-30850) Northern Grapes Project. Research support was also provided from Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station.
Prior to the turn of the 21st century, the Vermont winegrape industry was essentially non-existent. The development and release of cold-hardy grape cultivars with juice characteristics suitable for quality winemaking has allowed for the development of a multi-million dollar industry in Vermont and other northern regions with cold climates. However, selection of cultivars suited to the climate, soil, and wine market conditions in this region will likely take decades. Because new vineyards may cost $20,000 per acre to plant, full production is not attained for four years, and evaluation into of fruit quality and crop yield may take another five years, independent field-based cultivar evaluation is critical to ensure that farmers make the best choices when establishing their vineyards.
Following up on that research, last fall our lab received a three-year Vermont Specialty Crops Block Grant to evaluate the next generation of promising grape cultivars through the 2020 growing season. We will have our first harvests from that project this year. We look forward to sharing that information with winegrape producers and Vermont wine enthusiasts as it develops.
Bradshaw, T.L., Kingsley-Richards, S.L., Foster, J. and Berkett, L.P. (2018). Horticultural performance and juice quality of cold-climate grapes in Vermont, USA. Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 83(1), 42-48. DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2018/83.1.6 https://doi.org/10.17660/eJHS.2018/83.1.6