Cold-hardy, disease-resistant wine grape varieties are helping fuel the rise of the grape and wine industry in New York, the Northeast, and other regions of the United States.
The New York State wine industry has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. Yet, many of the varieties used suffer from one or more deficiencies in areas such as wine quality, cold hardiness, and disease resistance. It is especially important to find the right variety for a particular planting location given the expectancy that a vineyard will remain productive for 30 to 50 years. New York and the eastern U.S. need new varieties that produce grapes reliably and economically, with reduced pesticide inputs, and that make products that consumers and tourists will enjoy.
The grape breeding program at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva released is first grape, Cayuga White, in 1972. The grape caught on slowly at first, but one success led to another, and soon it was widely planted throughout the state's Finger Lakes region. More than 25 wineries produce wine using Cayuga White grapes each year, making the grape a staple in the industry. It produces a spectrum of wines from dry to sweet to sparkling, and its productivity and price per ton have turned Cayuga White into a cash crop for grape growers. Cayuga White is also cold-hardy and disease-resistant, so pesticide applications can be reduced.
In New York alone, approximately 800 to900 tons of grapes are produced annually, for which growers are paid $300,000 to $400,000. The value of wine sold each year from these 800 to 900 tons is between $4 million and $6 million. Cayuga White has played an important role in the 30-plus years since its release. It has helped the growth of the New York wine industry, and has contributed to the growing number of tourists attracted by the wine trails, restaurants, and accommodations in New York's wine regions.
The Traminette grape, released in 1996, is following a similar path to success. Since its release, it has been planted at the rate of more than 30,000 vines per year. A new red wine grape, GR 7, was released in February 2003, and wine from this grape is already being sold at several New York wineries. A strong wine industry contributes to the rural economy in agricultural areas and helps property owners resist pressures to sell land for development.
- Other USDA (e.g., Water Quality, Special Grants, NRI)
- Federal Formula Funds - Research (e.g., Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Animal Health)
- State or Municipal (e.g., NYSDAM)
- Private (e.g., commodity groups, foundations, companies)
- T. Henick-Kling, Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Geneva
- Grape growers of the Finger Lakes, western N.Y. and Pennsylvania
- Double A Vineyards, Fredonia
- Grafted Grapevine Nursery, Clifton Springs
- University and Experiment Station collaborators in the eastern U.S.
- Bruce I. Reisch
- Horticultural Sciences, Geneva, New York
- Thomas Henick-Kling
- Food Science and Technology
- New York State Agricultural Experimental Station
- Geneva, New York