Technique

Cold Climate Grape Growing

Indeed, for 4–6 months of the year, the frigid and snowy landscape hardly seems like a great place to plant a vineyard. Temperatures in January and February drop sufficiently low to kill dormant buds in most cultivated grapevines. Nonetheless, our best kept secret is our mild summers marked by long warm days and cool nights. Many grape varieties can ripen in Minnesota – they just need to be buried for winter protection! Although grapes have been grown in the Upper Midwest and northeastern parts of the US for at least 150 years, the availability of refrigerated rail cars and trucks in recent years have made it easy for northern winemakers to purchase grapes, must and juice concentrate from warmer climates. Those wishing to use local produce often make wine from fruits such as apples, raspberries or rhubarb. However, with help from the breeding expertise at the University of Minnesota, northern winemakers now have the possibility to make high-quality wine from cold-climate grapes grown right in their own backyard! In 1908, when the Horticulture Research Center (HRC) in Excelsior, Minnesota was