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Grape Growing Information

The Rist Canyon Vineyards

A Colorado Vineyard:

Growing Grapes Under Marginal Grape Growing Conditions
Other Grape Growing Information

Rist Canyon Vineyards was established as a grape varietal trial and research vineyard.  The goal is to determine which grape varieties are adapted to the short growing season and cold winters, plus provide grape growing information to people growing grapes along the Colorado Front Range Foothills. All of this grape research is needed information for Colorado grape growers along the Front Range.  Wine and table grapes are being evaluated for Colorado conditions.

Grape Winter Hardiness and
Grape Frost Tolerance

In addition, grape winter hardiness and other grape research is being conducted to determine the best growing practices for optimum grape production under Colorado grape growing conditions.  Acclimation and deacclimation of buds to the cold are of particular interest.  The way that grapevines harden off and adjust to the cold determines whether they will survive the Colorado cold. How grapevines de-acclimate and re-acclimate to the cold determines whether they will survive the temperature fluctuations of late winter.

A counterpart of this study is grape frost tolerance to both spring and fall frosts. Spring frosts are the biggest deterent to growing grapes under our short growing season conditions. A late spring frost will destroy the tender grape fruit buds and reduce the crop severely. I have looked into many frost avoidance methods and have settled on alginate in combination with double pruning to successfully produce grapes each year.

An ongoing experiment using sodium alginate has proven effective with late spring frost avoidance.  Grape frost tolerance is of prime importance to Colorado grape growing. Avoidance of late spring frosts is a key to obtaining proper yields in the Colorado vineyard. Grape frost tolerance is one of the main thrust of the research performed at the Rist Canyon Vineyards.

One problem with delaying spring frosts to the grapevine's primary buds is that the typically short Colorado growing season is shortened that much more. This means that the grapevine's fruit may not be fully ripe at harvest. I have been researching means of shortening the ripening period by the right grape trellising system matched to the grape variety, cultural practices (such as leaf removal) to hasten ripening, and fertilization practices that will aid the grapevine to not only harden off and ripen fruit more quickly but to increase the health of the vine.

It is hoped that the grape research conducted at the vineyard will aid Colorado grape growers and grape growers in any short growing season or marginal growing condition areas to find the optimum grape growing practices and varieties that will lead to productive and successful vineyards. The Colorado foothills provide the perfect region to conduct such research. Cold winters, late spring frosts due to fluctuating temperatures, short growing season conditions, and early fall frosts provide the backround for the research at the Rist Canyon Vineyards.

Grape Varietal Trial

Grape variety research through our varietal trial is the first step to determining the right grape growing factors of this region. Spring frosts have been the limiting factor for the right grape variety that is adapted to the Colorado grape growing conditions. An early ripening grape variety is essential under these grape growing conditions. Grape varieties vary widely in their response to our short Colorado grape growing conditions. Each year has presented new problems to the successful growing of grapes here in the Colorado Front Range Foothills. We are constantly researching these new grape growing problems at the Rist Canyon Vineyards.

Other Grape Research

Various trellising systems are under investigation to determine which systems are best adapted to imparting grape winter hardiness and grape quality under the Colorado foothills growing conditions.  This is Colorado grape growing at the extreme! 

Grape frost tolerance is also affected by the trellis style. The affects of trellis height and type are being investigated as means of frost avoidance. The grape trellis system is also a way to shorten the ripening period when you have avoided spring frosts and thus shortened the grape growing season on the latter end of the summer.

Grape Growing Information

Throughout the Rist Canyon Vineyards' web site there is information on growing grapes. Information on recommended grape varieties for growing along the Colorado Front Range and other marginal grape growing areas can be found at Recommended Grape Varieties. I provide you with links to many publications and web sites that deal with growing grapes and have vital grape growing information on the subject at Grape Growing Publications & Links. A discussion on grape pruning and training can be found at Pruning and Training. .

I hope that you find this site full of the grape growing information that you are looking for. For your convenience, you can find all the links on this site for grape growing and grape research provided by Rist Canyon Vineyards through my sitemap. Please take time and click on my Rist Canyon Vineyards Sitemap to tour the vineyard and see what I'm all about.

Tips for Growing Grapes Book

I now have my own book on
grape growing!!

It's called "Tips for Growing Grapes in Short Season, Cool Climates". My book is based on my grape growing experiences since 1974 and much is based on my Colorado grape growing with its very short growing season. I think this is a must read for anyone growing grapes in marginal areas. You can find out more about my book and how to purchase it at:
Tips for Growing Grapes in Short Season, Cool Climates

Rist Canyon Vineyards Newsletter Archive and Grape Growing Forum

I am pleased to announce that I have created an archive of past issues of the RCV Newsletter for your reference and viewing. This archive can be accessed by going to: RCV Newsletter Archive. Past issues are a good means to see what I've been doing through the years at the Rist Canyon Vineyards. To receive current issues of the RCV Newsletter, be sure to sign up using the form on the left side of this page.

I have also created a Rist Canyon Vineyards Grape Growing Forum for you to post comments on growing grapes. I am hoping that this will be a great place for all of us fanatic grape growers to tell each other about our successes with growing grapes in marginal areas as well as a board to post and have others suggest answers to the grape growing problems that our fellow vineyardists have. You can access this grape growing forum by going to: RCV Grape Growing Forum. Let's have some fun and help each other with our endeavors to grow grapes where none have been grown before.

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Picture of the Month

Variety: Neron

Neron (a Kuhlmann hybrid) at harvest time in early September, 2003. Hardy, vigorous, productive, with larger clusters and berries than either Foch or Millot.

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