Jim has been growing grapes in marginal areas since 1974. He currently runs the Rist Canyon Vineyards. Rist Canyon vineyards is a varietal trial and research vineyard in the Colorado Front Range Foothills.
If you have transversed my website you know that I am a private research vineyard in the Colorado Front Range Foothills. One of the main concerns when I started the Rist Canyon Vineyard was would grapes grow here in our short-season, cold winter environment. To determine this I began with a grape varietal trial to determine which varieties were best adapted to my marginal grape growing conditions.
The grape varieties which I selected ranged from those varieties which I knew to be winter hardy and early ripening to grape varieties which I knew would be marginal in their adaptation to my conditions. Many of these grape varieties were planted for use in my breeding program based on fruit, growth characteristics, disease resistance, or other quality characteristics. But the main reason for planting this spectrum of varieties was to get a handle on my unique environmental parameters that this growing site displays.
Every year since the formal establlishment of the vineyard has been a test year in one sort or another. I've undergone late spring frosts, early fall frosts, droughts, cool-wet springs, record hailstorms, and relatively cold winters (no test winter yet). From the experience of the past few years, there is a picture arising of grape varieties which have shown consistently to survive and produce a crop under the marginal growing conditions of my site in the Colorado Foothills (7300ft).
The following is my list of grape varieties which I believe to be those which are suitably adapted to the growing conditions of the Colorado Front Range and areas of the country which consist of short-season, marginal growing seasons:
RED GRAPE VARIETIES
To continue on to page 2 of this discussion of recommended varieties, CLICK HERE
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A good basic book about growing grapes and making wine from them. Has become one of the standards on grape growing. Most of the techniques come from growing in California, but still recommended:
This is a good book for those growing grapes in the backyard and wanting to make small quantities of wine. Contains some recipes for wine.
A collection of articles dealing with specific topics of growing wine grapes. Much useful information:
The companion to a "Wine Growers Guide". Everything you need to know about making wine on a small or commercial scale. It got me through my first attempts at making wine from actual grapes that I'd grown. Emphasis on the hybrids: