This excerpt if from Appendix A: Viticulture In Huron County: An Investors Guide
Appendix 1: Grape Varieties Appropriate to Huron County
In deciding which varieties to plant, viticulture investors will be in a position familiar to anyone trying to decide whether to invest their RRSP money in stocks or term deposits. Each path has a different risk-reward profile. We know that the financial rewards of successful planting of vitis vinefera can be higher than with the hybrids, but we also know there is a margin of safety around winter damage to vines that comes with hybrids.
Anthony Shaw’s climate study concluded that both viniferas and hybrids could grow in Huron County. Both varieties will produce wine that people would enjoy drinking. But the challenges of growing viniferas in our climate are greater that those encountered in growing hybrids. To grow viniferas in this climate requires more energy. That’s energy from the sun because of their longer growing season, and heat energy to protect them from winter cold. Those inputs require time and money can in turn require vintners to put a high price on their wine simply to cover such costs. In Prince Edward County, many growers and vintners have learned the hard way that hybrids are a better way to get started in grape growing and winemaking.
Wes Weins of VineTech Canada and Lloyd Schmidt have strongly suggested that Huron County growers and vintners begin their grape-growing experience with the hybrids. These grape varieties, particularly those developed specifically for cold climate viticulture, offer a greater likelihood of success at the start. They grow more reliably, and they require fewer inputs of time and money and equipment to get through the winter. Other professional viticulture consultants and oenologues concur. All suggest it makes most sense to start with hybrids such as:
Hybrid Red Varietals:
• Baco Noir, Chambourcin, Frontenac, Marechal Foch, and Marquette
• Henry of Pelham Winery and Estate produce an excellent red Baco Noir
• Malivoire Estate winery is using Marechal Foch successfully to make a very fine red wine
• Ontario vintners in Prince Edward County and Grey County are finding a market for red wine made with Frontenac.
Hybrid White Varietals:
• Frontenac Gris, L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, and Vidal Blanc
• Vidal is a white hybrid that is used for Ice Wine, Semi Dry Wines and Dry Wines by many wineries in Niagara region and elsewhere.
• Seyval is less known as it is often used by large wineries in white blended wines
• L’Acadie Blanc is successfully used in Nova Scotia and Quebec
Any red grapes from young vines can also be made into very nice bone-dry fruity rose or pressed ‘White’ and used in a sparkling blend.
One of the consultants we asked to review the soil and climate studies we had commissioned was internationally renowned French viticulturist and winemaker, Pierre Marie Guillaume. He reported that varieties such as Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Chardonnay would be suitable for commercial production within Huron County. For growers who want to experiment with growing viniferas, the following varieties are suggested:
• Cabernet Franc
• Pinot Meunier
• Pinot Noir
These can be planted in the region. Taking care of viniferas will be more costly in chemical applications and more labour intensive than hybrids. Investors may need to reserve capital for winter protection techniques such as a geothermal blanket application and/or wind machines.
Such considerations do not mean that growers should abandon the idea. If the investors have the capital to pursue such a dream, then they might want to start with just a few rows to learn all about the four seasons life of vitis vinifera.