Vineyards and Varieties

About Grovedale Winery & Vineyard
Grape growers in places like north-eastern Pennsylvania used to be limited to a few varieties like Concord. Even these grapes didn’t always ripen in our relatively short growing season, and even when they did ripen, they were suitable mostly for jelly and juice. Their “foxy” flavor was nothing that wine drinkers wanted in their glass.

That is all changing. The University of Minnesota has an active grape breeding program, and they have created new varieties that not only survive the northern winter, but can be made into wine that is excellent by any standard. Another group of winter-hardy grape varieties was created by the late Elmer Swenson, a private breeder from Osceola, Wisconsin.

Vineyards that will survive to minus 25, minus 35, some even to minus 40 degrees F. are now being planted in places like Minnesota and Quebec. Excellent wine is being produced and sold at these vineyards, and more vineyards are being planted as fast as the vines can be propagated. Hardy table grapes are also being planted. The world of grape growing has truly moved North!

Grovedale Red Wine Grapes

Marquette sets a new standard of excellence for winter-rtical shoot positioning system. The wine is complex with berry, cherry, black pepper and spice, and hardy red wine grapes. It has good disease resistance to downy and powdery mildew and black rot. It has a desirable open growth habit, and could be trained to a vertical shoot positioning system. The wine is complex with berry, cherry, black pepper and spice, and more tannin than the other northern reds. Matures about 2 weeks before Frontenac.


Frontenac is a very cold hardy vine and has borne a full crop after temperatures as low as -30 F. It has near-immunity to downy mildew. Frontenac’s small black berries are produced on medium to large clusters that are usually slightly loose. As a result, berry splitting and bunch rot have been rare, even in wet years. Frontenac has been a consistently heavy producer and sometimes requires cluster thinning. Frontenac is a vigorous variety and usually becomes established very quickly. Typical spacing on fertile soils would be about 8′ between vines. Frontenac ripens in late-midseason, about 10 days after Foch. It is important to let the fruit hang long enough to fully mature in order to reduce the acidity to workable levels. Frontenac is a good sugar producer with 24-25 brix not uncommon. Frontenac wine typically has a pleasant cherry aroma with berry and plum evident in many cases.

St Croix – Many award-wining red wines have been produced from St Croix. It is widely grown in Minnesota, Connecticut and Quebec. Clusters are medium-sized and slightly loose. Acidity is moderate, and sugar doesn’t get above 20 Brix. Vigorous grower, hardy to about -25F. Roots are a bit less hardy, unless there is snow cover.

Grüner Veltliner – is a variety of white wine grape grown primarily in Austria and in the Czech Republic. It has a reputation of being a particularly food friendly wine. It is made into wines of many different styles – much is intended for drinking young, but some is capable of long aging. Even the simple wines can have very pleasant citrus and grapefruit aromas, with a hint of the variety’s most distinguishing characteristic: the spicy fragrance of freshly ground white pepper. However, from top sites and lower yields, the wines can be astonishingly complex, full of exotic tropical fruits, white pepper and lentils.


Grovedale White Wine Grapes

Frontenac Gris (pronounced “gree”) is a natural variant of Frontenac with light red/gray fruit. Frontenac. Gris makes a wine with a tropical fruit/grapefruit flavor and peach undertones. The wine color ranges from amber to light rose’. In all other respects, it is identical with Frontenac.

Louise Swenson The wine has a typical delicate aroma of flowers and honey. This wine’s only fault is that it is rather light in body. Blending with a variety such as Prairie Star makes it a more complete wine. Louise Swenson rarely exceeds 20 Brix. Acidity is moderate and needs no reduction. Observed at many sites around south-central Minnesota, this variety has shown little or no winter injury even in the most severe (-40 F) winters. It has moderate vigor on most sites. It buds out relatively late in the spring compared to other hybrid grape varieties.

LaCrosse ripens fairly late and needs a warm summer to reach 20 Brix. Makes a good dry white wine fermented in oak with ML fermentation. Wine flavors include pear, apricot, and muscat. Hardy to -25F. Vigor and productivity is moderate.

St Pepin ripens mid- to late-September. Has female flowers so must be planted near other grapes for pollination. Can produce very good wines, with flavors of pineapple and other tropical fruit. Hardy to about -26F.

Vidal – Vidal Blanc is an inter-specific hybrid variety of white wine grape. It manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates while maintaining good acid levels. Vidal Blanc was developed in the 1930s by French breeder Jean Louis Vidal; his primary goal in developing the variety was to produce vines suitable for the production of Cognac in the Charente region of France. However, due to its winter hardiness this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in Canada and in the north-eastern United States. It is somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.The wine produced from Vidal Blanc is fruity, with grapefruit and pineapple notes. Due to its high acidity and fruitiness it is particularly suited to sweeter, dessert wines. In particular, because of the tough outer skin of the fruit, it is well adapted for the production of ice wine.

Riesling – Riesling is a white grape variety which originates in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety at 120,000 acres, but in terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly “terroir-expressive”, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.

Riesling wines are often consumed when young, when they make a fruity and aromatic wine which may have aromas of green or other apples, grapefruit, peach, honey, rose blossom or cut green grass, and usually a crisp taste due to the high acidity. However, Riesling’s naturally high acidity and range of flavours make it suitable for extended aging. International wine expert Michael Broadbent rates aged German Rieslings, some hundreds of years old, extremely highly. Sweet Riesling wines, such as German Trockenbeerenauslese are especially suited for cellaring since the high sugar content provides for additional preservation. However, high quality dry or off-dry Riesling wine is also known to have not just survived but also been enjoyable at an age exceeding 100 years. The townhall of Bremen, Germany, stores various German wines, including Riesling based wines, in barrel back to the 1653 vintage. More common aging periods for Riesling wines would be 5-15 years for dry, 10-20 years for semi-sweet and 10-30+ for sweet versions.