Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cold-Hardy Grapes Key To Local Wine Industry Growth

harvest picked by volunteers and Cornell educators at the Cold Hardy Grape Research Nursery at the Willsboro Research FarmNew York’s Champlain Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) includes Clinton and Essex counties with 11 commercial vineyards and six wineries with a near-term growth projection from 15.47 acres to more than 78 acres. To accommodate that growth, the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP) of Cornell University Cooperative Extension is now recruiting a new grapes specialist.

“The Champlain Valley AVA is distinguished by its short growing season, cold winter temperatures, and production of cold-hardy North American hybrid grape varieties, including Frontenac, La Crescent, and Marquette,” according to Elizabeth Higgins, business management specialist, Hudson Valley Lab, Highland, NY.

Higgins authored the “October 2016 Grape Production in the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Region” report that notes growth from nearly zero to 100-plus grape acres in Clinton, Essex, Saratoga and Washington counties from 2001 to 2012.

The new ENYCHP specialist will work with grape growers in Clinton and Essex counties and 15 other counties along New York’s eastern border.

A key task for the ENYCHP grapes specialist will be to oversee new varieties planting at the cold-hardy grape research nursery at the Willsboro Research Farm along Lake Champlain in Willsboro. Growers, private grape breeders, and representatives of the Cornell-USDA and University of Minnesota grape breeding programs helped develop a list of 21 potential new cold-hardy varieties for evaluation at the nursery established and now being refreshed with grant funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

For more information on the new grapes specialist position and to access ENYCHP educational resources, newsletters, and pest alerts for grape and all horticultural growers, click here or call (518) 746-2562.

Growers in Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington counties can enroll in the ENYCHP here. Those outside the 17- county region may enroll as satellite members.

Photo: Harvest picked by volunteers and Cornell educators at the Cold Hardy Grape Research Nursery at the Willsboro Research Farm, courtesy Willsboro Research Farm.

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