November 25, 2009
Contacts: See end of release

NNY Agricultural Development Program Posts Wine Grape Trial Results

Northern New York – Can Northern New York farmers grow cold-hardy grapes and make commercial quality wine?

Results of Northern New York cold-hardy wine grape variety trial research funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension Northeastern NY Commercial Fruit Program say yes. Trial data is now posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org

In 2005, Cornell University Extension’s Northeastern NY Commercial Fruit Program established a 300-vine vineyard at the E.V. Baker Agricultural Research Farm in Willsboro, NY, to evaluate 25 different cold hardy wine grape cultivars.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, seven local grape and wine producers, the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association, the Cornell Grape Program, the Cornell Wine Analytical Lab and the New York Farm Viability Institute all participate with this Willsboro Wine Grape Trial project.

Project leader Kevin Iungerman, a Cornell Cooperative Extension tree fruit and grapes educator, says, “Commercial wine grape production and the making of quality wines from grapes grown in Northern New York are quite attainable by agricultural entrepreneurs in the Upper Hudson and Champlain valleys of New York state.”

Seventeen of the 25 cultivars in the trial were projected as able to produce 5 tons or more of fruit per acre in 2008. Iungerman, however, is cautious, because the winter weather has been mild since the vines were planted.

“We have data on bud break, cane growth, bloom, capfall, berry set, veraision, projected yields per acre and juice and wine sampling. Virtually all of the cultivars in the trial have done quite well to date,” Iungerman says, “however, we must wait for yet-unfolding extremes of climate and weather constraints.”

He notes that the 2009 live node evaluation showed winter injury levels despite the mild winter conditions.

“The spring frost pattern appears to be emerging as the greater cold threat to wine grapes in the Eastern Northern New York region more than absolute winter cold,” Iungerman says.

Fine Wine Possible with Cold-Hardy NNY-Grown Grapes
The first finished wine from five red grape cultivars and six white grape cultivars from the Willsboro trial vineyard was made in 2008 at the Cornell Wine Lab at Geneva, NY.

“The wines made at Geneva indicated that quality wines are indeed possible to be had despite the non-traditional and colder Northern New York production region,” Iungerman says.

Continuing research is identifying practices to improve fruit quality, production and winemaking techniques to suit the unique characteristics of the Northern New York-grown grapes.

“I fully expect this research to aid several pre-commercial vineyardists to move their vineyard and winery ventures to a commercial level,” Iungerman says.

The small vineyards of the eastern Northern New York region include:
• Altamont Vineyard, Altamont
• Blue Stone Vineyards, Willsboro
• Edgewater Farm, Willsboro
• Hid-in-Pines Vineyard, Morrisonville
• Kayaderosseras Vineyards, Greenfield Center
• Natural Selection Farms, Cambridge
• Purple Gate Vineyard, Plattsburgh.

Other NNY Willsboro Wine Grape Trial participants include Bow Vineyard of Weathersfield, VT, and Maple Gate Farm of Randolph, VT.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) is a farmer-driven research, outreach and technical assistance program, serving farmers in NY’s Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org.

Funding through the 2008-2009 New York State Budget and the support of NYS Senator Elizabeth O’C. Little (45th Senate District) underpins NNYADP on-farm research at the Cornell E. V. Baker Research Farm at Willsboro, W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute at Chazy, Cornell Uihlein Maple Research Station in Lake Placid, and on operating farms in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.

Additional funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute and Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station supports projects being conducted across the entire six-county NNY region in 2009. Learn more at www.nnyagdev.org. # # #

Project leader/Tree Fruit and Grapes Extension Educator:
Kevin Iungerman, 518-885-8995, kai3@cornell.edu

Cornell Cooperative Extension Crop Educators for Northern NY:
Clinton County: Peter Hagar, 518-561-7450
Essex County: Anita Deming, 518-962-4810
Franklin County: Carl Tillinghast, Stephen Canner, 518-483-7403
Jefferson County: Mike Hunter, 315-788-8450
Lewis County: Joe Lawrence, 315-376-5270
St. Lawrence County: Stephen Canner, 315-379-9192

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program: www.nnyagdev.org
Co-Chairs Joe Giroux: 518-565-4730; Jon Greenwood: 315-386-3231