Varietals Grown In New Hampshire Vineyards
Grapes in the Live Free State
Most grapes grown in New Hampshire are French-American hybrids (the genetic crossing of two or more grapes) with a strong resistance to cold weather. These grapes that grow in New Hampshire have a shorter growing season and are compatible with our extended cold season. It is crucial in winemaking - to match grape variety to the specific climate of the area chosen for vineyards.
Fortunately, hybrid grapes do extremely well in New Hampshire. The grapes are divided into 2 categories – cool climate and cold hardy. Acknowledgement should be given to the research and development at Cornell University for cool climate hybrid varietals and University of Minnesota for cold hardy grapes. The difference between planting cool and cold has to do with climate. The Seacoast region favors cool climate grapes, while the other regions lean towards cold hardy. It is typically warmer on the Seacoast and much colder in the White Mountains - regions in between fluctuate.
One or more of the these grapes can be found in wines produced by members of the New Hampshire Winery Association.
Cool Climate Grapes in New Hampshire
A white grape that produces a semi-dry wine with aromas and flavors of citrus and peach. The wine is similar to an Italian Moscato.
A red grape that is one of the world's most popular French-hybrid varieties, noted for its dark for coloring and herbaceous aromas.
A white grape native of New York and the leading green grape grown in the United States. The wine has a sweet, lovely floral aroma.
A red wine grape with a rich ruby color and flavors of red and black berry fruit, plum and black pepper. Occasionally used in Port style wines.
A white grape used in making both dry and off-dry style wine, also used in sparkling wine and ice wine.
Cold Hardy Grapes in New Hampshire
One of the newest white cold hardy grapes producing wines that come in dry or sweet style and exhibit tropical yellow fruit flavors that range from grapefruit to pineapple. Often used in blending.
A white French-hybrid grape highly regarded making light, citrus-tinged wines that can come in a range of styles, from dry and sparkling to late-harvest dessert wines.
A juicy French-hybrid red wine grape that produces fruit-driven wine and ages well.
A red wine displaying a dark garnet color, with cherry aromas and blackcurrant, plum and cocoa flavors. Also used in making dessert wines and port.
A popular white grape in northern areas making aromatic wine with flavors of stone fruits, such as peach, citrus and pineapple
A red wine that is medium-bodied showing a ruby color with aromas and flavors cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice.
The most popular and widespread red grape throughout northern states and Canada. It is famous for its deep red blood-like color resulting in an earthy wine, with dark berries and some spice flavors.
A full-bodied elegant red wine showing a garnet red color with hints of celery seed, cloves, anise, and truffle. Award winning Rosé wines are made from this grape.
A smooth red wine with aromas and flavors of red berry, hints of pepper and spice,
The most popular grape along the eastern seaboard. Fresh and crisp with aromas and flavors of citrus, green apple, and honeydew melon. The grape is ideal for sparkling wines.
A red full-bodied wine with flavors of dark berries and currants.
A diverse white wine with floral and fruity aromas ranging from dry, crisp wines to late-harvest and ice wines.
Wines made from the white grape are versatile ranging from dry to very sweet, and display honeyed notes of pineapple, apricot and citrus fruits.
New Kids on the Block
White wine grape with aromas of pear, gooseberry, melon, starfruit, honey, and hints of citrus. Similar flavor profile as Pinot Grigio
The signature white wine grape of Nova Scotia that has citrus aromas along with a grassy scent. Similar to Sauvignon Blanc. Also frequently used in making sparkling wines.
The NHWA also has a winery passport available at each participating winery and for download on the website. Prizes are awarded for those that visit them all.
Survey of Grape Production in New Hampshire, 2020
Conducted by the NH Winery Association and B Sideman, UNH Cooperative Extension
An informal survey of NH grape growers was conducted in 2020 to generate baseline data about the location of grapes grown and prevalence of different varieties in the state. The primary goal was to learn about the distribution and prevalence of wine grape varieties in NH.
Between June 9 and July 8, 2020, 27 respondents completed the survey. Of those, five (5) had vineyards that were not yet bearing, and three (3) had very small vineyards of 10 vines or fewer (“home vineyards”). Home vineyards were excluded from the following report. Vineyards that were not yet bearing are included, but are presented separately from bearing vineyards.
The full survey is available here.
The majority of commercial vineyards in the state responded to the survey and provided detailed data about the varieties they are growing.
Here, we present the preliminary results:
Location of vineyards
The northernmost commercial vineyard was located in Lincoln, NH – but the overwhelming majority of respondents were from southern NH – as expected given the adaptation of grapes to the warmer climates of southern NH. The distribution of respondents is shown in the map below. Of the 24 commercial scale vineyards, all but 6 stated that they had a winery in the same location as the vineyard.
This map represents the Grape Production in NH. Vineyards with commercial quantities of bearing vines are shown in blue; those with commercial quantities but that are not yet bearing are shown in orange, and those in olive green are home vineyards with 10 or fewer bearing vines.
Respondents were asked to provide the number of vines and/or the acreage of each variety of grapes grown. They were also asked to indicate the maximum age of those grapes, and which varieties they 1) considered “signature” varieties, and 2) which varieties they were sorry they’d planted.
A total of nearly 24,000 bearing vines are reported throughout the state, with nearly 19,000 of these in southeastern NH. An additional 4,300 vines have been planted. This corresponds to approximately 47 acres total (assuming 600 vines/acre), 39.8 acres of which are bearing.
NH vineyards grow a great many (26) varieties. The varietal representation is a bit different in southeastern NH than elsewhere in the state.
Cayuga represents 27% of the planted vines in southeastern NH, though it is grown in only four vineyards. Interestingly, it also had the largest number of growers (3) stating they were sorry to have planted it because it did not do well in their site.
Marechal Foch had the next largest acreage (13%), but with only three producers.
Marquette, Niagara and Petit Pearl are grown by the largest number of producers (6, 6, and 5) – but represent only 9, 7, and 5% of the acreage respectively.
Signature grapes: Seven varieties were considered signature by one or more growers – including Marquette (2), Niagara (2), Petit Pearl (1), La Crescent (2), Brianna (2), Chancellor (1) and Seyval (2).
All of NH:
Cayuga represents 22% of the planted vines in all of NH (and it is grown only in southeastern NH).
Marechal Foch (13%) and Marquette (11%) are grown by 9 and 11 producers, respectively.
La Crescent is the next highest acreage (7%), and is grown by 8 producers.
Signature grapes: In addition to the seven varieties mentioned above, Frontenac (1), Itasca (1), St. Croix (1), Prairie Star (1), and Edelweiss (2) were considered signature varieties by those outside southeastern NH.
Up and Coming Varieties:
The most prevalent varieties in new plantings in acreage are: Marquette, Brianna, Petit Pearl, Niagara, Cayuga, and Marechal Foch – with several others close behind. L’Acadie Blanc and Itasca are being trialled in smaller quantities on multiple sites.