Growing Grapes in Kansas

With its scorching hot summers and erratic thunderstorms, it is amazing that Kansas still has wineries. Grape growing actually started two hundred years ago in Kansas, when European settlers tried to grow Vitis vinifera varieties in the region. It was only after several attempts did growers recognize native American varieties such as Catawba and Delaware. Kansas has small grape growing and wine industries, with only 14 wineries and about 200 acres of vineyards. Most of the areas in this region are subject to rapidly changing weather patterns and can experience severely hot summers to sudden thunderstorms of hail and ice. Commercial grape growing in Kansas is limited to a few areas, particularly in the Doniphan, Whandotte, Shawnee, Sedgewick, Reno, Crawford, Leavenworth, Douglas, and Johnson. Concord is still the best variety grown in Kansas, with its hardy, resistant vines and mid-spring ripening season. Hardy French-American hybrids such as Marechal Foch are also grown in Kansas for wine production.

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