Deciding on Grape Varieties
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Deciding on the grape variety is not an easy thing. It is crucial to consider the growing method we will choose, the varieties of grapes that thrive in our area and of course if we can market the product of our selected variety at a good price. There are two methods to start a vineyard: Growing autogenous plants or growing grafted cuttings. In any case, each variety has its own unique quality features, expressed under specific climate and soil requirements, such as pH or EC levels, water and nutrition requirements, temperature or sun exposure. Thus the selection and decision shall be careful and fact-based.
Growing Autogenous Grapevines.
Since 1850-60, most European vine-growers periodically stopped the cultivation of autogenous vine plants. The reason was the appearance of a catastrophic enemy, which was unknown in Europe since then. The enemy is called Phylloxera (Phylloxera vastatrix) and is a soil aphid that is extremely harmful to vines. It is believed that the aphid came from America, due to the fact that American grapevines had already developed immunity, because of the long term symbiosis with the pest. Before that, the main cultivars belonged to Vitis vinifera species, most of which are sensitive to the aphid. However, in areas that phylloxera problems have not appeared, some smallholder farmers still prefer to plant autogenous plants.
Growing Grafted Grapevine Cuttings.
As we mentioned above, during 1850, European producers started to seek for solution to defeat the phylloxera attack. The solution came from the same place as the attack, America. Native vine varieties of America have developed immunity against the aphid due to the long period of symbiotic relationship. Thus, they started to graft their traditional Vitis vinifera varieties on American rootstocks. Grafting is a commonly used technique by which we join together parts from two different plants so that they will grow together as a single plant. The upper part of the first plant is called scion and grows on the root system of the second plant, which is called rootstock. Eventually, we have a plant that combines all the advantages of its different components.
The preferred rootstocks, are numerous, depending mostly on their tolerance under certain soil and temperature conditions. Some of the most commonly used rootstocks belong to the following species:
Vitis riparia (e.g., Riparia Gloire de Montpellier)
Vitis rupestris (e.g., Rupestris du Lot)
A combination of Riparia-Rupestris
Rootstocks of the Berlandieri x Riparia group
Rootstocks of the Berlandieri x Rupestris group and many others
Each of the rootstocks varies significantly both in morphological characteristics and growing techniques.
Regardless of which method we are going to choose, we must be sure to buy our plants from a legitimate seller in order to avoid surprises.
Choosing Grape Variety
Due to the thousands of years of grape cultivation, thousands of varieties have been developed. Generally, we divide grape varieties into three major groups.
In this category, we have mostly European varieties, because of their long history in wine production. However, some American varieties are also important. Some commonly used winemaking varieties are: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Concord (red varieties), Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Catawba, Delaware (white wines)
Currant producing varieties:
The most famous are Sultanina and Korinth
Table grapes varieties:
Cardinal, Perlette, Victoria, Ribier and others.
You can enrich this article by leaving a comment or photo of your selected vine variety.
Deciding on Grape Varieties
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