Growing Grapes in Montana

Montana has a very small grape growing and wine business because of the region’s extremely cold climates and short growing season. As of 2008, there were only eight wineries in the state. Most of them are located in the Missoula area, where the winters are milder than the rest of the state, and only one actually has a vineyard for growing grapes. The best varietals to grow in northern states like Montana are those, such as Marechal Foche and St. Croix, which are highly resistant to the cold. European varieties, those belonging to Vitis vinifera, are more suited to mild Mediterranean climates and will not survive in Montana. Concords and Niagaras also thrive in cold climates. These varietals are more commonly used for grape juice than wine. Recently, Montana has developed a hybrid that is a cross between cold-resistant varietals and varietals used for making grape juice, resulting in fruitier grapes that can survive the cold Montana winters.

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