July 11, 2008
Contacts: Willsboro Conference: Kevin Iungerman, 518-885-8995
Watertown Conference: Sue Gwise, 315-788-8450
Wine & Grape Industry Blossoming Across Northern New York
A couple starting Lewis County's first winery, a young man searching for
funds to establish his vineyard, members of the Lake Champlain Grape
Growers Association, and aspiring vintners from Clinton, Essex,
Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties attended the Cold
Climate Viticulture: Wines and Vines in the North Country Conferences
held in early June.
organizer and Senior Viticulture Extension Associate Dr. Timothy E.
Martinson with the Cornell University New York Statewide Viticulture
Extension Program, says, �The North Country has seen a burgeoning
interest in growing grapes for wine. The cold-tolerant hybrid grape
varieties that are adapting well to Northern New York soils, climate and
growing conditions are varieties that grow where more traditional
varieties would not survive the winters.�
Martinson estimates that 30 acres of cold-hardy grapes have been planted
in western NNY counties (Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence) over the past
five years. The eastern NNY region has approximately 10-15 acres in
Conference Timing Perfect for Aspiring Winemakers
This spring Natalie Peck and Colin Read planted 1,400 vines of the
Marquette variety of cold-hardy wine grapes at their North Star
Vineyards in Mooers, NY (northern Clinton County).
�We are novices with a lot to learn. We had purchased our grapes and
been preparing the land, so the timing of the Wines and Vines conference
was perfect for us. We are looking to expand our vineyard each year,
adding different varieties,� Peck says.
Peck says she was interested in conference speakers talking about pest
control and how having a vineyard winery brings a higher economic
return. She enjoyed the field trip to the 300-vine, 25-variety Cold
Hardy Wine Grape Cultivar Trial at the Cornell E.V. Baker Agricultural
Research Farm at Willsboro. The trial there has had the support of the
Cornell Cooperative Extension Northeast New York Commercial Fruit
Program, New York State Senator Elizabeth O�C. Little, Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program, New York Farm Viability Institute, and
numerous regional volunteer growers.
�I was happy to see our variety growing at Willsboro and to see ideas
for how we might trellis our vines. The field trip and the conference
also provided the opportunity to network with a community of grape
growers willing to share their knowledge and experiences,� Peck says.
Kevin A. Iungerman of the Cornell Northeast NY Commercial Fruit Program
and project leader for the Willsboro grape trials, says, �This regional
research is producing rare side-by-side vine performance data based on
field comparisons right here in the region. The trials also provide
regional grape enthusiasts with the opportunity to learn about vineyard
management and winemaking by seeing and doing.�
At the conference, Peck joined the Lake Champlain Grape Growers
Association, which has 50-some members from New York, Vermont, New
Hampshire and Quebec.
NNY Region Provides
Unique Cold-Hardy Marketing Opportunity
Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association member Rob McDowell says
cold-hardy grapes offer a marketing advantage to the newly developing
wine industry in northern New York.
�The key point about wines made from cold hardy grapes is that because
they don't have the years of suffocating tradition that dictate
marketable wine styles and flavors. The winemaker is free to create
wines that are expressive of the inherent flavors of the grapes and the
local melange of soil, sun, and climate,� McDowell says.
Lake Champlain Grape
Growers Association member Kathryn Reinhardt of Willsboro, NY, says,
�Those of us experimenting with grape growing in the Adirondacks are
starting with the concept of planting varieties that will survive and
thrive here and are not trying to grow varieties that are best grown in
warmer, dryer, longer-growing climates. Once we succeed with wine
making, I'm sure the public will enjoy unique and special wines from a
unique region of northern New York.�
Vineyard in Jefferson County
Scott Carpenter of Philadelphia, NY, was among those with young
vineyards at the Watertown wines conference. Three years ago Scott and
his dad Everett planted five apple trees, some raspberries, blueberries,
and 28 grapevines � 25 of which are still growing. Even though his
father has since died, Scott is looking to keep the vineyard going.
Start-up cost and production information presented at the Wines and
Vines conference was helpful to the aspiring grower.
�I am searching for funding to help cover the costs to truly establish
the vineyard. We would like to sell our grapes � we have five varieties
already - to a winery already making wine. The conference provided
information on new varieties we might try, but we have to find funding
first,� Carpenter says.
Iungerman says, �Generally, we estimate $6,000 to $10,000 per acre to
start a vineyard depending on a number of variables, including employed
labor, trellis supports, etcera.�
Lewis County�s First Winery Developing
In Lewis County, Mike and Sue Maring are establishing a large-scale
vineyard and the county�s first winery - Tug Hill Vineyards. The 2700
plants of 10 varieties of table and wine grapes they planted in 2007 did
well and this past spring they added another 2,500 plants on their 40
acres on the well-traveled Route 12 between Copenhagen and Lowville.
�We are building a banquet and event center that will include a tasting
room and wine store featuring wines from elsewhere in New York State to
start until we are making our own wines,� says Sue.
The Marings have also planted blueberries and six kinds of raspberries
for u-pick. They estimate their investment in this new agricultural
enterprise at more than $1 million.
�The speakers at the wine conference reinforced our thoughts on what we
need to do to establish this new enterprise. Our business plan
projections are on track with the comments made by enologist Chris
Gerling,� Sue says.
Gerling is the new Statewide Enology Extension Associate in the
Department of Food Science and Technology at the NYS Agricultural
Experiment Station in Geneva, NY.
The Watertown conference also included a tour at Yellow Barn Winery,
Sackets Harbor, NY.
Learn More about Growing Grapes in NNY
To learn more about cold-hardy grape research in northern New York, go
online to the www.nnyagdev.org website of the Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program � the farmer-driven research,
education, outreach and small grants program has funded grapes research
in the NNY region. # # #