Leading American Varieties


Concord is grown on a greater variety of soils and under a wider range of climatic conditions than any other variety of American grape. Its vine is vigorous and productive, ripening in early to mid-October in New York. The suitability of Concord fruit for multiple purposes gives it a large market potential. It is the most important variety for sweet juice, jelly, and preserves, and it is also used in quantity for wine production and fresh market sales.

Concord produces medium-sized clusters bearing large, blue-black berries. It is typical of the American V. labrusca-derived grapes in having a tough skin which separates readily from the pulpy flesh (slipskin). The pronounced fruity, V. labrusca flavor of Concord makes it a desirable dessert grape. It is the leading table grape variety in New York. However, skin cracking and excessive post harvest shelling, as well as the presence of seeds, limit its use for this purpose. Relative characteristics of Concord and other varieties are listed in Tables 2 and 3. More information on the Concord grape may be found in a separate publication (Zabadal et al., 1988).


Catawba is a spicy flavored slipskin grape with a pronounced V. labrusca aroma. It was developed in the very early 1800's. In order to reach full maturity in New York, Catawba requires favorable sites with long growing seasons. The vines are vigorous, hardy and productive, but the foliage is somewhat more susceptible to fungal diseases than that of Concord (Table 2). Catawba also experiences foliar injury where ozone pollution occurs. High acidity may be a problem in some years. Primary usage is for white or pink dessert wines, but it is also used for juice production and marketed fresh as well.


Niagara is a floral, strongly flavored white grape used for juice, wine and fresh consumption. It ranks below Concord in cold hardiness and ripens somewhat earlier. On favorable sites, yields can equal or surpass those of Concord. Acidity is lower than for most other American varieties. It is successfully grown in many districts throughout New York.



American Varieties of Limited Acreage


Delaware is an early ripening red variety with small berries, small clusters and a mild American flavor. It is an important dessert variety in Japan, yet in New York is used primarily for juice and white wine. The tender skins may crack when rain occurs as the fruits ripen. Delaware requires a deep, fertile, well-drained soil for satisfactory vine growth, and on such soils, with good management, may produce yields as high as those of Concord. On all but the most favorable soils, Delaware should be grafted on a phylloxera-resistant rootstock to ensure vigorous growth.

Once prized for champagne production in New York, it is now being replaced by several of the interspecific hybrid and vinifera varieties. Delaware remains, however, one of the highest quality American varieties for wine.


Dutchess is a late-ripening white grape of V. vinifera and V. labrusca ancestry. The fruit has a less American flavor than other varieties of V. labrusca ancestry. Because of the relatively low cold tolerance (Table 2), the variety should be planted only on very favorable sites. Other interspecific hybrid varieties now largely fill the role that Dutchess once played in New York wine production.


Elvira is a white grape which descends from Vitis riparia, the Riverbank or Frost Grape. The variety ripens at Concord season and is one of the most productive varieties grown in New York. It is used primarily for bulk wine production. Because the skin is thin and the cluster is very compact, cracking of the berries results in some seasons if the grapes are harvested at full maturity. Current practice is to harvest the fruit before cracking becomes a problem. The must is typically high in acidity. See also Ventura.



Fredonia is a blue-black Concord-type grape with very large berries that ripen about two weeks Concord. The flavor typified by Concord which is so desirable for juice and jelly, is lacking in Fredonia, yet Fredonia is utilized for both juice production as well as roadside table grape sales. With careful pruning, vigor and production may approach Concord levels. The fruit clusters are susceptible to downy mildew.


Isabella is an old black, labrusca-type variety used primarily for wine. In other parts of the world Isabella is one of the most common grapes of its type, but in New York it is rare, having been replaced by other varieties. Cold damage can occur in severe winters.


Ives is a black grape of the V. labrusca type that is used to add color to red wines and juices. It is very subject to damage by the air pollutant, ozone, which may cause diminished vigor and productivity.

Moore's Diamond

Moore's Diamond resembles Niagara in fruit and Concord in vine and is one of the few white American varieties which have been used to produce dry table wine. It is also desirable as a table grape, but the skins may crack during wet seasons.