Field Days Highlight Grape Cultivar Research and Demonstration Plantings

Paul Domoto, Faculty, Horticulture Department


Establishing and operating a successful vineyard requires a substantial capital investment as well as sound management decisions in the initial planning stages in regard to the suitability of a site for grapes and what cultivars to plant.  Because of Iowas harsh winters, grape cultivar selection is rather limited.  Premium European wine grapes (Vitis vinifera) will not survive without some form of winter protection, and most popular French hybrid cultivars (Vitis vinifera x Vitis species), that are the basis for the northeastern U.S. and Canadian wine industries, appear only marginally adapted to Iowas continental climatic conditions.  New, hardier cultivars are being developed, but before they can be recommended for Iowa, they need to be thoroughly tested under our climatic conditions.


Evaluate the adaptability and productivity of new grape cultivars and advanced breeding selections at four statewide locations that characterize the different climatic and soil conditions found in Iowa, and disseminate the information at field days, grower conferences and meetings, and annual reports.


In 2002 and 2003, research and demonstration plantings evaluating 35 grape cultivars and advanced selections were established in northeast, southeast, southwest and central Iowa.  These plantings have been the focus of 12 field days and educational workshop that attracted over 850 participants.  Results from the plantings have been reported at five grower conferences with over 1,150 in attendance, and seven published progress reports. Based upon these results and observations, grape cultivar characteristics have been discussed at nine meetings attended by over 280 growers. 


These plantings are identifying grape cultivars adapted to the various regions of Iowa.  They are allowing grape growers to observe how the various cultivars perform to aid in making decisions on whether or not to plant them.  At a cost in excess of $10,000 per acre to establish and bring a vineyard in to production, selecting adapted cultivars is critical for the development of a successful vineyard enterprise.

July 5, 2007
130 - Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer

Page last updated: August 2, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,