French-American Hybrid Wine Grape Trials at the Upper Mountain Research Station
PROJECT LEADER(S): Richard Boylan
LOCATION: Upper Mountain Research Station, Laurel Springs, NC.
This test of one dozen varieties of cold-tolerant hybrid wine grapes will provide the first research-based information about comparative hardiness and (later on) juice/wine quality for the NC High Country. The region’s late spring frosts and short growing season present unique challenges that must be overcome if local wineries are to be able to use local grapes as a supply.
This project was proposed after I visited several sites in Alleghany County where vinifera and other insufficiently hardy wine grape varieties had been planted. The growers who planted these vines had chosen varieties that thrive and produce in Yadkin County. Despite our relative proximity, these varieties either fail to thrive or winter-kill entirely in our higher elevations.
Hopefully, the data generated by this project will aid all future wine grape growers in the region to avoid this costly mistake. It takes approximately $10,000 to plant an acre of grapevines, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
Successful area growers were consulted at all phases of this project. Many of them had good experiences ordering from Double A Vineyards, so this supplier was chosen. A group of area wine grape growers offered input about varieties to include, and an order was placed in November of 2004.
It was decided that a nearby supplier would be used for all trellising materials, as we hoped to build relationships with knowledgeable businesses that are within easy visiting distance. S&H Farm supply was chosen based upon its proximity, its stocking of appropriate supplies, and the technical support provided by owner Frank Hobson. His prices were competitive with larger but more distant suppliers, once the costs of shipping were factored into the equation.
The vines will be planted in April of 2005, and will be tended and monitored for during upcoming years. Performance will be compared on two trellising systems: an open lyre-type of double curtain trellis, and a single-curtain VSP-type of trellis.
- Moore’s Diamond
- La Crosse
- Ravat 34
- St. Pepin
- Baco Noir
- Landot 4511
- Leon Millot
- GR7 (Buffalo x Baco Noir)
- NY 73.0136.17 (NY 33277 x Chancellor x Steuben)
Both present and potential wine grape growers are following our progress closely in the hopes that the project will offer insights that will prove helpful to growers choosing which varieties to plant o their own sites.
The planting of these wine grapes will signify the very beginning of the real work of this project. The support of the Specialty Crops Program is what has made it possible to reach this point, and many growers, researchers, and neighbors are curious to learn of the results of the next 5-10 years.
TABLES & PHOTOS