Grape How to – Important Factors in Deciding on Your Wine Making Grape

Today, you will learn about different varieties of wine making grape, how to assess their suitability for your vineyard climate and soil type, and the best trellis structures for them. The most common commercial wine grape variety in the world is the Vitis vinifera species. In North America, the V. labrusca is widely cultivated and to a lesser extent, the V. rotundifolia.

The V. vinifera is a fairly hardy species that likes mild winters and long, hot growing seasons. This species requires soil pH of about 6.5. Well-known varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Popular in Europe, this cultivar has an upright growth habit, making an upward vertical shoot positioning trellis system the most suitable. Shoots are positioned vertically upward through a set of catch wires as they grow from a mid- or low-wire cordon or cane. The Concord grape, which is of the V. labrusca species, is a cold climate grape.

It can withstand severe winters, as well as late spring and early fall frosts to minus 15 degrees F. Concord is tolerant of a wide range of soil types. In North America, it is cultivated in the northern growing regions such as Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes District of New York, South Western Michigan and the Yakima Valley in Washington. It is quite versatile, being well known for making sweet wines, jellies and juices, and even as a table grape! However, it has a poor reputation for making dry wines due to the muskiness of the Concord grape. How to successfully produce a great dry wine from this variety involves tending the vines with care to avoid over-cropping and allowing the fruit to ripen well before harvesting this grape. How to get the best yield and quality of Concord grapes is a question asked by many growers. A bi-lateral cordon training system with a vertical trellis and the Geneva Double Curtain systems have been used with good successes as this vine has a trailing growth habit.

Another species is the V. rotundifolia (muscadine), a native of South Eastern United States. This species enjoys warm, humid conditions and is a very popular Florida grape. How to improve yield is a common question, as this grape grows in very small clusters. The vines must get full sun for most of the day during the growing season to maximize fruit set and production. Fruity flavored wines are produced from this grape. How to prevent plant failure is another problem faced by growers, as muscadines is very unforgiving of wet feet. They are not fussy about the type of soil so long as drainage is good. The ideal soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.5. This vine has a trailing growth habit and can produce between 35 and 60 pounds of fruit per vine.

A sturdy trellis is essential. A high trellis cordon system would work, although using the Geneva Double Curtain or a high bilateral cordon will support heavier crops. While matching the vine variety to the climate of your location is a major determinant for the success of your grape growing effort, choosing the correct trellis support system influences the yield and quality of the grapes you produce. Of course, other vineyard practices such as training and pruning, canopy management, irrigation, weed and disease control and pest management all interact together to affect your vineyard’s final yield and quality.  I will write more on these topics in the near future. In the meantime if you would like some further information on wine making then visit my website. Click on the link below to take you there  

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