Site Selection

A favorable site and climate is essential for successful grape growing. Specific requirements include

  • full sun.
  • good air drainage.
  • a 150-day frost-free growing season.
  • minimum winter temperatures above -25 degrees F (USDA Hardiness Zone 4b or warmer).
  • 2,000 growing degree days above 50 degrees F (see www.hort.cornell. edu/gardening/weather/ for more information on growing degree days).
  • soil that is neither excessively wet nor droughty.

Southern slopes or exposures protected by buildings or windbreaks are preferable to northern slopes and low ground, which tend to be cooler throughout the growing season and delay fruit ripening. Grapes tolerate a wide range of soil types and are not as sensitive to extremes in drainage as other fruit crops. Still, they are most successfully grown on deep, well-drained sandy loams.

It's important to choose cultivars that are well-matched to your site. You can grow grapes just about anywhere in New York, but not all varieties will survive (much less thrive) in every location. If you are in Zone 4 or Zone 5, be sure to carefully check nursery catalog information about hardiness. Cultivars vary in their susceptibility to winter injury. Temperatures below -15 degrees F can cause winter injury to all but the hardiest cultivars (see Table 4).

Grapes tolerate a wider variety of soils than most other fruits.

Table 4. Choose grape varieties that won't suffer winter injury in your area.

Stake canes at planting. They won't grow straight without support.

Low Winter Temperature (USDA Hardiness Zone)

Suitable Varieties o°F (Zone 7a)

  • 5°F (Zone 6b)
  • io°F (Zone 6a)
  • i5°F (Zone 5b)

Almost any

Most northern vinifera

Hardy vinifera and moderately hardy hybrids Hardy hybrids and most American varieties Hardy American varieties

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