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Cold Hardy Grape Varieties
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Grape Varieties, indigenous to Minnesota

The grape varieties listed on this page all are hardy to at least -20F/-28.9C.

[ Red Wine | White Wine | Table/Juice ]

Red Wine Grapes

Hardiness Disease: Resistance Name(s) Description/Notes
Baltica -32F N/A Also know as Hasansky Sladky and Varajane Sinine. Blue-skinned berry, low tannin, moderate. Makes light fruity wine, cherry aroma and brillant red coloring using whole cluster fermentation.
MN 1047
-35F or colder V - An Introduced in 1995, Frontenac is the first in a series of new wine grape varieties developed by the University of Minnesota for Upper Midwest conditions. A cross of V. riparia 89 with the French hybrid Landot 4511, Frontenac combines many of the best characteristics of each parent. Frontenac is a very cold hardy vine and has borne a full crop after temperatures as low as -30 F. It is also a very disease resistant variety with good resistance to powdery mildew and near-immunity to downy.Initially acids are high, but often drop dramatically late in the season. Fortunately, the pH does not often rise to dangerous levels. When grown in colder area the berries must be left on the vine long enough to mature fully. It produces only a moderate number of tendrils, which facilitates vine management.
Landot Noir -20F G - DM Has synonym name Landot 4511. Red Wine. Hardy to about -20 F. Its late bud break and early maturity make it a great choice for short season sites. Disease resistance is moderate with fair resistance to downy mildew. Wines from the Hudson Valley in NY and from NH have received outstanding ratings in various wine competitions. Nice ability to age.
Marechal Foch -25F G Has synonym name Kuhlmann 188-2. Short season french-american hybrid small-cluster grape with hard-cold tolerance to -20 deg. F. (ca -29 C). Having good resistance to the usual diseases, it normally ripens in early September. Grows well in sandy soils, but may need grafting for use in heavier soil types. Prof. Kuhlmann, the hybridizer, reported using an American riparia-rupestris hybrid variety as one of the parents but, confusingly, others argue that he instead somewhat misleadingly used the Oberlin 595 S.P, a Gamay based french-american hybrid developed by his father-in-law, in the cross with Goldriesling that created the offspring cultivar. Noted for producing somewhat light, yet deeply colored and strongly varietal, wines described as having a "Burgundian" character. Usually needs the help of carbonic maceration or hot-pressing to enhance quality. Birds find the small berries very attractive. Also known under the name Foch.
Minnesota 1211
-35F V - N/A Marquette is a cousin of Frontenac and grandson of Pinot noir. It originated from a cross of MN 1094, a complex hybrid of V. riparia, V. vinifera, and other Vitis species, with Ravat 262. Viticulturally, Marquette is outstanding. Resistance to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot has been very good. Its open, orderly growth habit makes vine canopy management efficient.
Marquette's high sugar and moderate acidity make it very manageable in the winery. Finished wines are complex, with attractive ruby color, pronounced tannins, and desirable notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate. As a red wine, Marquette represents a new standard in cold hardy viticulture and enology.
Sabrevois -35F V Sabrevois is the name given to Elmer Swenson's ES 2-1-9 in August 2001. It was named after the village near the Richeliu River in southern Quebec where Gilles Benoit of Vignoble des Pins first made high quality wine from the variety. Sabrevois is very winter hardy with good disease resistance, is quite vigorous and exhibits good upright growth patterns. It produces bunches of small to medium size, with moderate sugars and slightly high acids. It can yield wines with good fruit and deep colour, and, if fully ripened, be quite aromatic in character. It responds well to oak treatments, and would be quite useful served with foods made with tomatoes. Makes a highly aromatic rose if pressed very early. Dry red varietal sabrevois should age well and may require two years in bottle to round off the rough edges. Probably best as part of a blend with other red hybrid varieties known for higher sugars (say maybe Frontenac or Landot Noir). According to the new book Northern Winework. Sabrevois is hardy to -35C (-31F).
St. Croix -32F G Red wine. Hardy to -32 F or better. Good resistance to powdery mildew and black rot. Many award winning wines have been made from St. Croix. Vinifera-like, with good fruit and low tannin. Achieves 18-20 brix with moderate acidity. Ripens mid season. Also makes a suitable seeded table grape. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Swenson Red -25F to -30F G - DM Red to blue seeded table grape. Hardy to -25 F- -30 F. Above average vigor. Meaty texture with tender skin. Incredible strawberry-like flavor, much like a good seeded California table grape. Susceptible to downy mildew in some sites and years. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Zilga (Dvietes 4-2-108) -40F N/A The name 'Zilga' in Latvian is quite poetic, meaning something like "deep dark-blue waters" or "sky before thunder". Berries are small (1.7g), blue with sky-blue shade and aromatic, with the flavor of bilberries. Perfect flowers. Clusters small and medium, semi-tight, with a wing. Average weight of cluster 87.7g, maximum 120.0 g. Very vigorous and productive vine. Capable of producing 25-30 kg of berries from a single vine. Like S-675,very early ripening, even in cool conditions. The Latvian growers are eagerly working to explore its wine potential. Among all Sukatnieks selections, `Zilga' is the most hardy, having survived winters of to -40C in Belarus. Zilga results from a 1964 cross by Latvian breeder, Pauls Sukatnieks of `Smuglyanka' (V. amurensis) x `Dvietes Zilas' (V.labrusca) x `Jubileynij Novgoroda' (V.vinifera x V.labrusca). Imported last year into the quarantine program at Geneva, NY. Available in two years if all goes well with virus testing.

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White Wine Grapes

Hardiness Disease: Resistance Name(s) Description/Notes
Alpenglow N/A N/A Light red berries. Average Vigor. This Swenson selection makes a light, neutral white wine with very low acid and low sugar. It is suitable as a blending component for varieties with high acid.
Brianna N/A N/A White wine grape developed by Elmer Swenson. Berries are greenish gold to gold when fully ripe in early to mid September. Wine is balanced with pineapple nose and flavor. Also makes a flavorful white juice. Should be winter hardy in Southern SD. Trial in Central to North SD.
Edelweiss -30F F White seeded table, wine and juice grape. Hardy to -30 F. Excellent disease resistance and adaptability. Has a pleasing labrusca flavor, which becomes more pronounced the longer it hangs on the vine. While mostly a table and juice grape, some very popular sweet wines have also been made. Ripens early season. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
E.S. 6-16-30 -31F F Hardy to -31 F with secondary and tertiary buds surviving colder temperatures and producing a crop. This selection ripens to very good chemistry for wine with around 21 Brix and 1% acidity. Very Disease resistant. Wine has very good body with a light floral nose similar to a French muscadet. A bit astringent in the finish. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
ES 8-2-43 -35F N/A Very winter hardy to at least 35F, and early ripening, by early September. Produces numerous small clusters. Excellent wine, similar to a true muscat. Small clusters slow the harvest. Promising grape for short season, cold winter areas.
ES 10-18-30 -40F G Shows extreme winter hardiness to - 40F. Ripens early September, to 22 Brix. Wines have good body, good acidity, and a long finish. Remains healthy under a moderate spray program. Moderate vigor. Upright growth. Another promising grape for short season, cold winter areas.
Frontenac Gris -38F or more F - An White wine. Found growing at the University of Minnesota as a sport of Frontenac. Culturally, it is identical to Frontenac, having high vigor and yields. Hardy to at least -38 F. Disease resistance is good, with moderate suseptability to powdery mildew and black rot, and very low suseptability to downy mildew. Small grey berries are born on medium sized, loose clusters. Berry splitting and botrytis have not been observed. Suitable for high quality table and dessert wines, possibly ice wine as well. Ripens mid season with aromas that include peach, apricot, citrus, and pineapple. Labrusca and herbaceous aromas have not been detected. Selected by the University of Minnesota.
LaCrescent -36F F - BlR, DM Hardy to -36 F. Requires a careful spray program to control black rot and downy mildew. Sugar can develop to 22-27 brix with high acid. Wine can be excellent in a semi sweet or dessert style. Similar to a good Vignole or Riesling but with apricot and honey in the nose and flavor. Ripens mid-season. Selected by the University of Minnesota.
Lacrosse -25F G White wine. Hardy to -25 F. Vigor and disease resistance are moderate. Sugar content of 19-21 brix. Good varietal wines have been made in a dry and semi-dry style and are clean, fruity, with good acidity. This is one of the leading white wine varieties in some upper mid-western states. Ripens late season. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Louise Swenson -40F G - An This selection was bred from a cross of E.S. 2-3-17 x Kay Gray. However, as a wine grape, it will never be confused with Kay Gray. Berries average around 3 g and clusters are small to medium, conical, somewhat compact, and average 105 g (range 70-130 g). In five years of trials, the wine from Louise Swenson has been outstanding for its quality and consistency from year to year. The wine is without any negative hybrid characteristics, and has a typical delicate aroma of flowers and honey. This wine's only significant fault is that it is rather light in body. Blending with a variety such as Prairie Star makes it a more complete wine. Louise Swenson rarely exceeds 20 Brix, even if left to hang past midseason. Acidity is moderate and needs no reduction. Observed at many sites around south-central Minnesota, this variety has shown little or no winter injury even in the most severe (-40 F) winters. It has an orderly growth habit, with moderate vigor on most sites. It buds out relatively late in the spring compared to other interspecific hybrid grape varieties. Unlike its father, Kay Gray, the clusters hang free of the tendrils. Disease resistance is generally very good, with some susceptibility to Anthracnose. Observations on very sandy sites suggest that Louise Swenson may be sensitive to droughty conditions. On sites of this type, irrigation may be required in dry years. This grape should be grown much more widely in the North for its consistent wine quality, outstanding winter hardiness, and good cultural behavior. Perfect flowers.
Petite Amie N/A N/A A white wine grape with muscat flavors bred by David McGregor.
Prairie Star -40F F - An Also known by the synonym name ES 3-24-7. Is a cross between ES 2-7-13 and ES 2-8-1. Developed by Elmer Swenson in 1980 and released around 1994. Harsh-cold (to -40 deg. F) tolerant, this variety is quite disease resistant other than a susceptibility to easily controllable Anthracnose. Reported as capable of making a neutral varietal wine in most years it is currently used to add body and finish to such other white wines as Louise Swenson.
St. Pepin -26F N/A A sister seedling of LaCrosse but hardier, to around -26 F. This variety is pistallite, meaning that it has only female flowers and must be planted near other varieites to ensure proper fruit set. It should be pruned to a high bud count to make sure there is adequate fruit production. Small berries are formed on medium loose clusters. Ripens mid season to about 20 brix and 1.0% total acidity. One row of St. Pepin next to one row of another variety will do well. Excellent wines have been made from St. Pepin as a varietal and also blended with LaCrosse. When well ripened, fruit quality is similar to Reisling. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Seyval Blanc N/A F - BuR Seyval (Seyve-Villard 5-276, commonly marketed as Seyval blanc) is one of the most widely planted hybrid grapes east of the Rocky Mountains. When grapes are harvested at optimal maturity, wines have attractive aromas of grass, hay, and melon. The body tends to be thin, and either malolactic fermentation or barrel fermentation followed by oak aging will enhance quality. The vine tends to overbear and must be cluster and shoot thinned to ensure proper ripening and maintain vine size. Grafting is also recommended on all but the most fertile sites. Fruit clusters are very susceptible to Botrytis bunch rot.Description prepared by Bruce Bordelon, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Skujinsh 675 (`Moskovskiy Ustoichiviy') N/A F This variety is being promoted widely over Latvia, Belarus, and regions near Moscow, where it has shown good winter hardiness and can be grown productively without winter protection. Clusters are small, 50-60 g, conical, semitight. Berries are small, round shaped, amber, with complex flavor of muscat and pine-apples, ripening early season. It has the ability to ripen even in very cool seasons. Sugar levels of 22-23%, and moderate acidity of 6-7 g/l have been reported in the Rostov/Don area. 16-17 Brix and 1.10% acidity with characteristic aroma near Riga , Latvia. Improved resistance to mildew. Vines are vigorous and with fair disease resistance. S-675 resulted from a cross of Pearl of Csaba x Amurskiy with the old Minnesota variety, Alpha. It was selected by Professor Skujinsh at the Tymiryazev's Academy of Agriculture in Moscow. Skujins 675 has successfully passed its quarantine period. It can now be obtained commercially (from Tom Plocher), and cuttings are also available from the Geneva repository.
Swenson White -30F V - An The clusters of Swenson White are medium-large (90-230 ave=152g) and rather loose. Berries are large(4g), yellowish, and thick-skinned, allowing them to hang on the vine, unmolested by insects, late into the fall season. This selection ripens rather late, reaching only 20 Brix by the first of October. Acidity is moderate. White wines produced from Swenson White have been excellent, with a pronounced flowery nose and a long fruity finish. Slightly susceptible to anthracnose. With its ability to hang on the vine and its good aromatics, this selection also should be a good candidate for ice wine. Hardy to at least -30F Very disease resistant.
Vignoles -20F F - BuR Vignoles (Ravat 51) produces excellent wines of many different styles. It is favored for dessert wines, especially when picked late in the season. The fruit can develop high sugar content while retaining high acidity. Vines are hardy with moderate vigor and productivity. Budbreak is late, reducing the risk of spring freeze injury. Clusters are small, very compact, and highly susceptible to Botrytis bunch rot.Description prepared by Bruce Bordelon, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Table and Juice Grapes

Hardiness Disease: Resistance Name(s) Description/Notes
Bluebell -40F V Derived from a Beta cross with an unknown variety. Is high quality blue seeded variety developed by Univ. Minnesota. Has good disease resistance and is cold-hardy to -40 deg. F. (ca -42 C.). Recommended as a tablegrape and for juice production in colder Mid-western states of USA.
King of the North -37F G - DM Extremely hardy blue Labrusca grape hardy to about -37F. Ripens mid to late September. Very vigorous vine, able to bear heavily. Also a good Labrusca style wine grape. Good flavor as a table grape and makes a delicious red grape juice. Notably susceptible to downy mildew. Produces tight clusters of sweet fruit good for fresh eating and juice. An incredibly vigorous grower, producing 5-6 times more growth per year than any other in this climate. Establishes quickly; fruits at a young age.
Reliance -25F V Pink seedless table grape. Hardy to about -25 F. Very good disease resistance. Medium sized clusters of small to medium sized berries. Excellent fruity flavor and slightly melting texture. Reliance can keep in standard cold storage for up to three months. A great choice for farm stands and backyards. Ripens early to mid season. Selected by the Universtiy of Arkansas.
Somerset Seedless -30F N/A A seedless grape with small, orange-red berries and good flavor. It's hardy to about -30F. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Toldi N/A N/A A seedling grown out from a selection of Latvian breeder, Andrash Fazekash. Described as a "Concord for the tundra". This is a beautiful blue grape with the flavor of Concord. It ripens about 6 weeks earlier than Concord and is hardier. Great flavor for juice or jelly. Opens up the possibility of growing a Concord-type grape in very cool and short season areas.
Trollhaugen -30F N/A Blue seedless table grape. Hardy to near -30 F. Medium to large blue berries are born on compact, medium sized clusters. Sweet and mild Concord-like flavor. Ripens extremely early to high sugar but can hang in good condition until a hard frost. Selected by Elmer Swenson.
Valiant -50F F - DM, PM Claimed as extreme cold-hardy to -50F red wine grape cultivar developed from Fredonia x Wild Montana (V.riparia) cross at South Dakota State University. Requiring a dry climate it is very susceptible to the mildew diseases. Unusual extreme cold tolerant cultivar in that it is capable of low acids (>1%) and high sugars (up to 20%). Daylight sensitive, it commonly goes dormant around September 1st. Currently grown in Minnesota, S. Dakota and in some other US and Canadian midwest regions including Manitoba, Canada where it reportedly needed no winter protection. Mostly used in blends, but can make agreeable jelly and is recommended by some as a (small berry) tablegrape. Listed as ripening about three weeks before Concord.

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