Main content area

Characteristics of the cold-climate winegrape industry in Vermont, USA

Bradshaw, T. L., Hazelrigg, A. L., Berkett, L. P.
Acta horticulturae 2018 no.1205 pp. 469-476
breeding programs, cold tolerance, cold zones, hybrids, industry, planting, temperature, vineyards, wine cultivars, wine grapes, wine quality, winter, Midwestern United States, Vermont
Vermont and other cold regions of the US which experience winter temperatures below -20°C produced virtually no winegrapes before the mid-1990s. Cultivar and planting system adoption have changed rapidly in the past two decades as cultivars with increased cold hardiness and wine quality potential have become available. In the mid-1990s, the first commercial vineyards were established in the State of Vermont, and consisted of French hybrid and 'hardy' vinifera as well as cold-hardy releases from public and private breeding programs. Training systems included mid wire cordon and Geneva double curtain. Private and public breeding programs located primarily in the upper midwestern US released cold-hardy winegrape cultivars in the late 1990s, continuing releases into the 21st century, resulting in increased vineyard establishment. 'Frontenac' and 'La Crescent' were the first of these cultivars to be planted in any quantity in Vermont, followed by 'Marquette'. Training systems adopted for newer cold-hardy cultivars include predominantly high wire cordon, with mid wire cordon and Geneva Double Curtain used to a lesser degree. Continued releases of new cold-hardy cultivars having greater potential for quality wine and trials of advanced selections have facilitated increased vineyard plantings and replanting of older, less desirable cultivars.