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King of the North

Posted by Todd Parlo 
King of the North
February 25, 2013 07:36PM
V.labrusca X V.riparia. Nearly black full flavored grape- quite tart until dead ripe. Outstanding for juices and jellies. Exremely vigorous and productive and disease free. A good choice for the uninitiated. A cultivar of unknown pedigree. This hybrid is a cross between Vitis labrusca and Vitis Riparia.

It is a dark blue to black fruit, the clusters medium sized and the berries medium to small (depending on your thinning program). Generally the clusters are somewhat loose and conical and refrain from dropping. Yields are high. Ripens in Walden in mid September, but earlier in most of Vermont. This is the most productive and vigorous grape we have. Two unpruned specimens planted by the chicken coop here in Walden have grown over 25' tall and into the trees in just a couple of years. This is a good candidate for arbors, natural fences and hiding abandoned vehicles. If planting for production plant at least 8 feet apart, at least. The fresh fruit taste is a bit tart, but hands down they made the best jelly. I am a tart fruit lover so I gobble them up as is. Better fresh eating than 'Beta'. Unlikely to make a good wine due to the high acidity, though some have reported making a decent labrusca style wine. When fully ripened makes a flavorful juice.

The vine is highly disease resistant. Cold hardy to zone 3, having survived at least to -35F. I have never seen winter damage on this cultivar since they were set out 15 years ago.

This one is hands down my favorite. It is absolutely bullet proof, in terms of hardiness and productivity. Here is an example of a vine that could be grown in opposition to all proper pruning and training techniques, ie- those who go for the natural look. Those coop vines mentioned above gave us a bit under 3 bushels of grapes, that's two plants folks. I pruned them, but only to be able to walk through the area. I had to harvest many on an extension ladder. Those bushels don't count the other bushel or two that the pileated woodpecker couple ate (they took up residence in the vines for weeks). If you do not like tart, don't bother, but those who do are going to love them. They are also our choice for juice: we press the fruit in a cider press and freeze it, then as needed we thaw and mix with 50 to 100 percent water (depending on taste). For sweet lovers a few tablespoons of honey will mellow thing out. I have a 3 gallon test carboy of wine, mixed with a few other varieties, so we will see how it influences the brew.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
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