They grow this sh-t in Walla Walla, so why not try it here?
December 19, 2007 7:08 AM   Subscribe

Can I grow wine grapes in Boston? Advice and anecdotes sought...

I live in Roslindale (Boston) and see a lot of homes in the area with established grape vines, some growing woody and covering arbors, and some climbing up to obscure second-floor balconies.

I'm wondering if, when I buy a home (probably in Roslindale or JP), I can grow grapes with the aim of producing a very small annual batch of wine for personal consumption.

What varieties will grow in Boston provided I am able to give them enough sunlight and can condition the soil properly? Has anyone living in the area tried this? What grapes did you grow? How did the wine taste?

I'd like to try and grow Carménère or something similar.
posted by mds35 to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
According to the out-of-date “tour the winery” .pdf here, the closest winery to you, Nashoba used to bring in their grapes from Long Island. They started experimenting with growing Vignoles in 2005, which they say should be ready in 2-3 years.

So it looks like it may be possible, at least at an established orchard.
posted by bondcliff at 7:23 AM on December 19, 2007

perhaps it you contacted one of the vineyards in massachusets they would be willing to offer some advice. looks like at least one of them is located in boston so you might be able to easily take a tour.
posted by phil at 7:24 AM on December 19, 2007

I think you'll find most varieties will grow in Boston. The trick will be getting one that ripens well. Carmenere is not likely to be one of those types as it is more of a warm climate grape. On the other hand if it's just your backyard and you are willing to put in a lot of effort there are all sorts of gardening tricks to extend the growing season. As a hobbyist you are capable of doing more than a for-profit winery.

I think the best place for information on growing conditions will be the people you see growing the grapes in your area--ask them what they grow and what sort of problems they have. You should also be able to find a local homebrewer/vintner association where likeminded people get together and discuss what's worked for them and what hasn't.
posted by cardboard at 7:37 AM on December 19, 2007

When I was a kid, we used to buy Concord grapes in...Concord (MA). We ate them, but I know that wine was made from them as well. They were grown out by Concord, for sure.
posted by rtha at 8:18 AM on December 19, 2007

You can absolutely grow grapes in your area. I live north of you (one growing zone up), and grow grapes successfully.

Double A Vineyards is a great web resource for grape growing info and ordering of various grape varieties. I don't think that Carmenere is viable in your zone, but there are other red wine varieties that would do well in your area. Double A will also recommend varieties if you tell them what you're looking for. I wanted to grow Concord for jam, and they pointed me in a different direction (another jam-friendly variety) that was more disease resistant.

Also, try a local nursery. They will know which varieties do well in your immediate area.
posted by Flakypastry at 8:30 AM on December 19, 2007

An older guy who lives near my parents (Waltham) grows grapes and makes wine. He drops off a bottle occasionally, but unfortunately I don't know any other details as he barely speaks English and I don't speak Italian. I know it's red wine and it's pretty intense, most folks we offer it to don't want more than a sip.
posted by jdl at 8:52 AM on December 19, 2007

Check out the UC Davis website. They have done extensive research on what grapes grow best in what areas. I posted a link yesterday in the "can I grow grapes in Washington" askme thread.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:35 AM on December 19, 2007

You want the Fedco Trees catalog (grapes are on pages 22-23 of the pdf).

They're a New England centered cooperative seed/seedling company focusing on cold-hardy cultivars that do well in the Northeast. They also carry many Northeast-native heirloom plants. (And their catalogs are beautiful and fun to read!)
posted by bubukaba at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2007

The climate being what it is up here, you may want to check out Ice Wine- they make it in upstate New York, and it is supposed to be a nice dessert wine.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2007

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