In my very first blog I touched on the importance of variety selection when planning out your home vineyard. Here in the Hudson Valley you are asking for trouble if you try to plant vinifera varieties. Most of them don't have the cold tolerance that is needed to survive many of our potentially very cold winters. In addition, we typically don't have a sufficiently long enough growing season to bring the grapes of many of these varieties to proper ripeness. Some select varieties like Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and possibly Riesling might make it; but it would be hit or miss. I did not want to deal with hit or miss, so I opted for all cold-tolerant hybrids that have proven to be long-lived and fruitful in my area. I tried to do plenty of due diligence up front to reduce wasted time, money, and effort down the road.
For the most part, these efforts paid off and the bulk of my vineyard is thriving. One variety, which I mentioned and provided some heritage details on in my white cold-climate variety blog, has become a failed effort and disappointment. Prinzipal, a German hybrid of Riesling, was described as a variety that could be grown in cold-climate areas with relatively short growing seasons. Areas that would be hard pressed to have success with growing Riesling. It was described as producing larger size grapes with double the production of Riesling.
This was to be my first partial production year for this variety. Unfortunately, due to our very cold winter, this variety ended up with approximately 80% trunk damage. The other 20% experienced partial trunk damage and the resultant shoots and grapes produced are stunted and pea-sized, respectively. A far cry from what I had hoped for. As I look at all my other varieties, they are healthy and brimming with grapes maturing day after day as we head towards harvest.