Northern Grapes? Yes!Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, the Dakota's aren't the places you would think of as grape growing places. All that is changing. Frontenac was the first cold hardy grape to be available, it took over 20 years to develop. There are now many more and they are good for wine, juice, jelly and lots of things you like.
I know you are seeking diversity and adventure in your garden, maybe even in your new small scale winery. Will Marquette be the new Pinot Noir? How does King of the North Jelly sound?
Growing grapes isn't difficult although there are a few things, like trellising which is just a fun project. Here is a review of a few varieties and a brief growing guide. There are more detailed information sheets you can click on at the end. At jiovi®, we have located some great cold weather grapes for you. (Limited quantities available for 2016 at www.jovi.com)
Sabervois (E.S. 2-1-9)
Sabervois (once known as Norway Red), it originated in Osceola, Wisconsin and is named after the village of Sabrevois near Montreal. The grape is black and is small to medium in size. The clusters are also small to medium size. Sabervois has very good disease resistance. The loosely filled clusters reduce the probability of Botrytis a fungal disease common with tighter clusters. While juice is lighter than the skins, when both are made into wine it is a very dark color. A 20% sugar content in very ripe fruit produces a wine that is low in alcohol, well balanced, has fruitiness in the nose and in the mouth. If pressed early, it will produce a nice rosé. Pair it with higher sugar content red or Frontenac for something very special. Sabervois based wine improves with age and likes to be in the bottle for 2 years to be at it's best. Hardy to -35 degrees F. Ripens early season¹. Suggested trellis -Top Wire Cordon². Plant 6-8 feet apart.
King of the North
Origin - Wisconsin. King of the North is a nearly black full flavored grape. It is very tart until dead ripe. Outstanding for juices and jellies. Extremely vigorous and productive and nearly disease free. A good choice for the beginning viticulturist.
Depending on how you thin, the loose conical clusters are medium sized and the berries medium to small. Yields are high. Ripens early season¹. This is the most productive and vigorous grape we have. This is a good candidate for arbors, natural fences and hiding anything under lush greenery. The fresh fruit taste is tart, but it does make the best jelly. A out of hand eating and jelly/juce grape mostly but can create a nice labrusca style wine. The vine is highly disease resistant. Cold hardy to zone 3, having survived at least to -35F. Ripens early season¹. Suggested trellis -Top Wire Cordon². Plant 8-10 feet apart. King of The North [PDF]
Beta (pronounced like Greta, as in Garbo)
Origin- Minnesota. Beta is medium black, slipskin grape. The tart fruit is wonderful for juice, jam, jelly and out of hand eating for those who like a flavor with a smack. Nearly free of diseases and super hardy (-40F). It is a vigorous grower to 20 feet. Space 8 feet apart in the orchard or closer on an arbor for faster filling in. Beta bears a heavy crop and you will find thinning of the bunches is not needed at all. The twisted trunks complete the visual beauty of this cultivar. Ripens early season¹. Suggested trellis -Top Wire Cordon². Plant 8 feet apart. Beta [PDF]
Ripens Mid Season³ Suggested trellis -Top Wire Cordon². Plant 8 feet apart. Frontenac [PDF]
Prairie Star is a French-American hybrid and one of the very few super cold hardy, disease resistant grapes well suited for both table and wine. The fruit develops a wonderful acidity and sugar balance which sometimes has a nice floral "nose". Adds body to wines when blended into more neutral wines. Nice for fresh eating as well.
Ripens Mid Season³ Suggested trellis -Top Wire Cordon² Prairie Star[PDF]
- “early” season ripens in late August to mid-September
- Top Wire Cordon system - [PDF]
- "mid" season ripens end of September
Don't see a variety you would like, let us know at what your favorite is! Ours are available at www.jiovi.com.
DIY grape growing tips:
- Test new varieties yourself!
- Try new varieties in small quantities as a trial to see how they do in your location. Evaluate a couple of varieties and get family, friends, and neighbor's thoughts.
- Plant new varieties next to a standard for your area
- Excellent grape growing article from MOGFA.
- All Trellis system overview.
- VSP Trellis System
- Mid Wire Trellis System
- Top Wire Trellis System