Growing Grapes in New England

New England is considered an entire appellation. The seasonal and weather extremes in New England are regulated by the region’s proximity to three large bodies of water: Cape Cod, Massachusetts Bay, and Long Island Sound. In general, New England vineyards produce three grape varietals: Vitis vinifera (European), Vitis Labrusca (American), and French-American hybrids, which possess the cold-hardiness of American varieties and the fruitiness of European grapes used for making wine. The south-eastern coast of Massachusetts and western Connecticut are both ideal sites for growing vinifera grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, because of the milder temperatures moderated by surrounding bodies of water. Cooler areas such as highlands are more suitable to cultivating hybrids such as Seyval, Vidal, and Marechal Foch. The cold-hardy and disease-resistant American cultivars Concord, Catawba, and Vanessa are also popularly grown in southern and central New England. Concord, however, requires a long growing season and will easily perish in the colder northern parts. Fredenia, Bluebell, and the recently developed Edelweiss thrive in colder parts because they take shorter time to ripen.

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