Eye on Ag: North Dakota Vineyards

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California may not be the only place for the best wine vineyards in the country.

Someday, that is.

In tonight’s Eye on Agriculture, Becky Farr takes a closer look at the potential for wineries in North Dakota.

(Becky Farr, KX News) As Fall approaches and the temperatures cool down, specialists at the North Central Research Extension Center in Minot hope the really low temps can hold off.

(Chris Asmundson/North Central Research Extension Center Vinter & Seed Production Specialist) “There’s grapes that will grow in North Dakota, there’s grapes that will make good wine but there aren’t that many that will do both.”

(Farr) Thanks to a mild winter and warm summer tempatures, wineries in the area just might have a future.

(Asmundson) “This year, I’ll probably get a marquette crop, last year, I didn’t. That’s a sweeter red wine.”

(Farr) Researchers are trying to determine which type of grape varieties can withstand the North Dakota climate.

(Asmundson) “What we’re doing is were taking pollen from one plant, one variety, and pollinating another variety by hand, so we know which crosses have taken place and then we study those plants.”

(Farr) The Extension Center started with winter hardiness grapes developed in South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

They plant them here with no protection to see what survives and test which crosses are best for wine.

(Asmundson) “These are sabrevois, it’s a locally grown wine grape. They make red wine. We put these in in 2008 they were part of the first winter hardiness study that took place at several different stations including Williston. They do pretty well but they don’t always have time to ripen but they do make good wine.”

(Farr) The plants do not produce fruit for at least two years.
If they do, the North Dakota growing season is not usually long enough to create enough sugars in the skin to ferment.

(Asmundson) “There are grapes, we’re just trying to develop a better grape.”

(Farr) The goal is to find the right variety that will take less time to develop.

(Asmundson) “So if we get an early frost we tend to lose most of the crop from these.”

(Farr) That would be a setback – but there’s hopeful news too – Asmundson says this is the first year since 2013 they’ve produced enough fruit to send on for further research.

With your Eye on Agriculture, Becky Farr, KX News.

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