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Grape Varieties

Grape Varieties

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Choose a site that receives full sun. If vines are shaded, growth may be weak and spindly. Avoid low spots where cold air collects as this could result in spring frost injury. In winter, low-lying spots on a property will have lower temperatures, making the vines more susceptible to winter injury. Due to erosion, topsoil tends to cellect in low areas, resulting in a deep, heavy topsoil layer. This will grow rank vines that are large, shaded and unproductive. 
In addition to full sun, soils must be well-drained. Poorly drained soils hold more water and will grow large, shaded vines with small amunts of poor quality fruit. In addition, good airflow within a grapevine canopy is absolutely essential for minimizing humidiy and fungal disease. Vines planted next to woods or a structure may suffer if airflow is restricted. These are central themes in commercial viticulture-full sun, well drained soils and good air drainage. Grapes will grow in many different soils. Vine growth is improved by adding organic matter to the soil. The soil exerts considerable influence on the crop with a low sugar content. Light soils tend to produce light yields or early-maturing fruit with a high sugar content and comparatively weak vine growth. 
If you live in an area with extremely severe winter temperatures with no real protection, it will be difficult to grow some varieties. Areas with high temperatures and high humidity persent problems because grapes are susceptible to diseases which thrive under these conditions. Patience is the virtue in strarting your new vineyard. You may be able to harvest a light crop the third season. The first full crop, however, will not be produced until about the fourth or fifth year. It is important that cultural practices of maintaining soil fertility, weed control, soil moisture conservation, and insect and disease control be followed. Control weeds by hand hoeing or with plastic or organic mulch. A clean area 1 1/2 to 2 feet on each side of the vine is necessary. Do not damage trunks with a hoe or chemicals. Once the grape are established and properly maintened, they will give you years of bountiful havests. 

Grapes should be planted in early spring in North/South rows. Bareroot grapevines need approximately 2 weeks of 70 degree air temperature in order to break dormancy and grow so planting before conditions are right is to no advantage. Make sure to dig a hole big enough to spread out the roots. There is no need to trim to roots prior to planting. Balling up the roots inside a hole that is too small may kill the plant so increase the size of the hole if necessary. Spread out the roots horizontally and backfill with dirt. Set the plant slightly deeper than it was grown in the nursery. If there are more than two shoots coming out of the top of the plant, it can be trimmed to the two strongest shoots. Prune each shoot back 2-3 buds, leaving 4-6 buds on the plant. Cultivate the youn vines until they become established. There is no need to fertilize the first year. The fertilizer tends to promote too much vegetative growth. In the second year, triple 15 fertilizer can be used, sprinkled in a 6-8 diameter around the plant. Grapes are very sensitive to many chemicals, particulary herbicides containing 2-4-D. Do not use this chemical near or aound your grapes. Captan will control harvest rots if used properly. Please consult label directions for proper use. 

Annual pruning is important in maintaining a uniform yearly production of quality fruit. The best time to prune grapevines is in the dormant season after the danger of severe cold weather has past, In northern United States, this is usually in March. Learning to prune grapevines requires practice and experience. Your local Extension Office, local library or internet should be able to assist you in obtaining additional information.


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Grape Varieties Chart

Educational Links 

Concord (Best Blue Variety)
The Concord variety has that true grape flavor and has been planted for a century. It is hard to beat for home gardeners or commercial sales. It is a late ripener. Used for wine as well as juice and jelly.

Concord Seedless
Grapes are smaller than regular Concord and will have an occasional seed. The flavor is the same as a regular Concord grape but slightly sweeter. The concord seedless generally ripens 1 week earlier than the seeded Concord and is excellent for pies, jams, jellies, and wine. Once the vine becomes established it shows improved vigor and productivity. Hardy in zones 5-9.

Fredonia (Best Black Variety)
Fredonia has a wonderful flavor and superb quality. This is the BEST of the black grapes. It is early to ripen, large and is promising. Ripens 2 weeks earlier than Concord.

Himrod (White Seedless)
The hardiest of the white seedless. It is of the finest quality for eating. Ripens in mid-August in Zone 6. The vines do well in warmer areas of (Zone  5-8) Hardy to -15.

Marquis –  Patent#11012 Cornell University.  A mid-season white seedless grape, with large clusters of large fruit with thick skin, melting flesh and very juicy.  With medium size soft seed traces. Fruit has excellent flavor and good winter hardiness.  Best use as a table grape but can also be used to produce white wine.   (Zones 5-8)

Mars (Seedless)
A vigorous blue seedless grape. Clusters are medium-sized and well filled. Vines are reasonably hardy and resistant to several major diseases. Mars is one of the last to bud out in the spring, which helps it avoid the late frost. Vines may bear fruit quite heavily therefore production should be controlled on young vines to prevent delays in establishment. Slipskin.

Niagara (Best White Variety)
This white grape ripens mid-season and produces an abundance of clusters of large flavorful fruit. It is an excellent white grape. Great for juice, wine and eating.

Reliance (Red Seedless-Patented)
This grape is VERY winter hardy. It has large clusters and is an excellent table grape or can be for commercial uses. It is good all over the Midwest. Hardy to -34. Medium size fruit.

ThomCord (Seedless)
Cross between Tompson Seedless and Concord - sweet, juicy and plump. Thomcord has a blue-black skin with a mildly sweet flavor from the Thompson seedless parent, blended with a Concord-like taste. Perfect for eating fresh off the vine! Fruit is firmer than Concord and heat tolerant. (Zone 5-9)

Venessa – Developed by HRIO, Canada. A early season red seedless grape, with medium size clusters of medium sized deep red fruit.  Berry is firm can have a large soft seed traces, flavor is mild and fruity best used as a table grape with good winter hardiness.  (Zones 5-7)


Click here for Grape Varieties Chart

Geneva Red (formerly known as GR-7) (Patent Pending)
A new commercial red wine grape from Cornell University in New York. Geneva Red is very disease resistant, vigorous and a heavy producer with good cold hardiness of -25 to -35 degrees. Makes a fine dark red wine with a classical dybrid aroma. A great selection for commercial growers and home gardeners where winter hardiness is a concern.

St. Croix
Sweet, bluish-red grape that makes an excellent table grape but primarily used for making red wine. Very winter hardy vines with little or no winter injury. Roots are a bit less hardy without snow cover. Expect vigorous growth and good resistance to powdery mildew and black rot. Watch for fruit to turn a darker color for full ripeness. Makes a medium to full-bodied, dry, deep red wine with soft tannins and good fruit aromas with currant and other dried fruit flavor qualities. (Zone 3-8)

Traminette (White Wine Grape)
Indiana's Signature Grape! A Gewurztraminer hybrid from the Geneva Breeding Program. Named in 1996, this hybrid produces wines of excellent quality, spicy and aromatic. The vine is much more winter hardy than its Gewurztraminer parent. Productive and moderately resistant to Powdery Mildew.


T=Table  W=Wine  J=Juice,Jelly
    Seeds Color Season Use Slip Skin Hardiness
Table Concord Yes Blue Late T,J,W Yes 4-8
Concord Seedless No Blue Mid T,J Yes 5-9
Fredonia Yes Blue/Black Early T,J Yes 4-9
Himrod No White Early T No 6-8
Mars No Blue Mid T Yes 5-7
Niagra Yes White Mid T,J,W Yes 5-7
Reliance No Red Mid T No 5-8
Somerset No Red Early T No 4-8
Suffolk Red No Red Mid T No 6-8
ThomCord No Blue/Black Mid T No 5-9
Venus No Blue/Black Early T Yes 5-9
Wine Cayuga Yes White Mid W n/a 6-9
Foch Yes Black Early W n/a 5-8
Geneva Red Yes Red Mid W n/a 4-6
St. Croix Yes Red Early W n/a 3-8
Traminette Yes White Late W n/a 5-7
Vidal Blanc Yes White Late W n/a 6-9