Technique

Growing Riesling Grapes: Tips from the Pros

If you live in a place with cooler weather and want to grow a versatile vinifera varietal, Riesling might be your best bet. Think Germany and Austria when you think of a climate for Riesling. In this issue, we asked two Riesling experts to discuss how they grow their grapes and how you can use those tips in your own home vineyard. Sean O’Keefe, V.P./Trade Relations at Chateau Grand Traverse in Traverse City, Michigan (far right). Sean studied German literature at the University of Michigan and moved to Germany in 1994 where he apprenticed at the winery of his family’s former winemaker (at Chateau Grand Traverse), Weingut Jakob Pfleger, in the Pfalz. He also attended viticulture classes at the nearby wine school in Neustadt. He transferred the following year to the wine university in Geisenheim in the Rheingau, where he fell in love with Riesling in all its forms. Our vineyard’s first test field planted Riesling in 1974. The first commercial planting was in 1976. We currently cultivate more than 80 acres of estate Riesling, and have long term contracts