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The 2016 Wisconsin wine grape season

The 2016 Wisconsin wine grape season

28954532231_6448f0cd69_zAmaya Atucha, UW-Extension Fruit Crop Specialist
Assistant Professor
Department of Horticulture
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 262-6542


2:59 – Total Time
0:14 – Frosty start to wine grape season
0:49 – Monitor for sugar, acidity to harvest
1:08 – Popular Wisconsin wine grape varieties
1:45 – New varieties being tested
2:21 – Newsletter and more information
2:51 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Sizing up the Wisconsin wine grape season. We’re visiting today with Amaya Atucha, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Amaya, give us a hint how the wine grape season started this year.

Amaya Atucha: So this year we had, unfortunately, a frost around May. Which for some growers have produced substantial amount of damage, but it was scattered around the state and some growers actually had no damage. So, the rest of the summer has made it up for it. It has been a great summer the grapes are looking fantastic; we are approaching harvest so I think we are going to have a really good year.

Sevie Kenyon: Tell us what the grower is looking for before harvest.

Amaya Atucha: Well before harvest the grower is looking at the quality of the grapes. So basically the sugar levels and the acid levels are two parameters that we use to evaluate when to harvest and so we have certain targets of how much sugar we want to have on the grapes and the level of acids and when they hit the targets that they want they are ready to go and harvest and send it to the wineries.

Sevie Kenyon: And, what does Wisconsin have for wine grape varieties?

Amaya Atucha: The varieties that are most popular and that I think a lot of people have heard is Marquette, it is a very popular variety makes an excellent red wine. We also have La Crescent as a variety that makes a white wine, Brianna is a new variety, relatively new, that is becoming very popular and makes a really nice wine with a lot of floral tones and we also have Frontenac it’s a variety that yields pretty consistently makes wine, depending on where they are grown in the state, it can be a really nice wine but it is a very consistent variety so the growers like it very much.

Sevie Kenyon: Are there new varieties under development?

Amaya Atucha: We just planted in our research station a new variety, Itasca, is a white variety that they just released I think the next year is going to be available for growers so start buying it from the nursery. We planted this year hoping to get some, at least a year ahead to have some data for the growers on productivity and the quality of the fruit. The type of research that we do at UW it’s important because we are able to have some data for many, many years that we can present to the growers and then the growers can make the decision what is the best variety for where they are in the state.

Sevie Kenyon: Growing wine grapes in Wisconsin, is fairly new to many people, where can they go for more information?

Amaya Atucha: We have a newsletter from UW-Madison. We put together a newsletter every other week during the growing season from April to October, and they can go to or they can just google “UW fruit” or “fruit Wisconsin UW” and they will get to our website and in our website we have a tab there that says “newsletter”. We have information not only for grapes but all of the fruit crops that are grown in the state of Wisconsin.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting today with Amaya Atucha, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.