young grape vines Thomas Todaro, MSU Extension
EXPANDING: The Tip of the Mitt is the coldest grape-growing region in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Cold-climate cultivars help Michigan’s wine industry spread north

The Tip of the Mitt AVA is taking advantage of cultivars that thrive in Northern conditions.

New winegrape cultivars resistant to cold climates being planted at Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery, as well as other vineyards in the Tip of the Mitt American Viticulture Areas, show Michigan’s expanding grape and wine industry. The cultivars being tested are Marquette, Le Crescent and Frontenac gris.

The Tip of the Mitt AVA is the coldest grape-growing region in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and in terms of phenological development, identical cultivars grown in southwest Michigan are typically two to three weeks ahead of those grown in Tip of the Mitt AVA.

The growers in this region were select grapevines that not only survive, but also thrive. When compared to V. vinifera, cold-climate cultivars are unique in their ability to be planted without a rootstock (grafting), withstand much lower winter temperatures with minimal damage, and consistently survive overly dry or wet soil conditions.

These cultivars require fewer growing degree days than V. vinifera to mature fruit. When managed properly, they produce high tonnage and quality, resulting in award-winning wines. Moreover, with relatively higher disease resistance than V. vinifera, these cold-climate grapevines typically require fewer management inputs, such as fungicide sprays.

With only about 5% of total winegrape acreage in the state of Michigan, according to Vanderweide et al., 2017, these cold-climate cultivars may be the key to further industry expansion to produce grapes in otherwise unproductive regions. It may allow Michigan’s cold-climate wines to add to the list of wines that have received statewide and national recognition.

For more information on which grape species and cultivars are recommended for each region of Michigan, see Growing Wine Grapes in Michigan from eXtension.

Source: MSU Extension


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