Front Range Backyard Viticulture

Variety comments


Frontenac – This would be my first recommendation for this region. The vines are hardy and extremely productive.  We have them trained on Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) and spur prune. Secondary buds often emerge so some bud thinning is necessary.  The wines have deep color and fruity flavors.

St. Croix – This too is a strong vine at Stonebridge.  Growth habit is more open and slightly less productive than Frontenac.  GDC trellis and spur pruning.  Wines are very similar to Frontenac.  If you want to grow for blending this won’t give much variation from Frontenac.

Leon Millot – This may be the most reliably productive vine at Stonebridge.  Very Hardy and vigorous with tight clusters that set even when all other varieties fail. GDC trellis and spur pruning. Wines are deep red with not quite the brilliance of Frontenac and more earthy flavors.  We think of it as a reliable middle note for blending.

Oberlin Noir – Much less reliably productive than the first three reds.  Very hardy and vigorous with large loose clusters.  GDC trellis often spur pruned but cane pruned when possible.  Wines are deep red approaching black.  We don’t need much but we use this as the bottom note in our blend.

Marquette – This is only in its third year and slow to establish so we don’t know about the wines yet. There is a lot of buzz about this vine in our area.  Where it is a little warmer in east Boulder County folks are getting good yields.  Here we worry that the very early bud break might suffer early frost damage. GDC and spur pruning.

Norton/Cynthiana – We tried this because of the history. It requires too long season and would not ripen here, so we removed it.


LaCrosse – This would be my first recommendation for a white in this region. An Elmer Swenson variety, the most reliable white in our vineyard. We have it trellised upward on a lyre – a mistake I think. A friend up the road has it on GDC. It is easier to manage that way. Spur pruning. A golden colored wine.

Seyval Blanc – The wine is nice but the vines have never flourished here. Very late bud break with always a good bit of winter kill. The Lyre trellising seems right here but the vines remain wimpy. Just when I think they aren’t going to make at all we get a heavy fruit set with three clusters per cane. Wine very light colored and delicate.

Cayuga – Lyre trellising definitely wasn’t right here. We’re in the process of changing over to GDC. This is by far the most vigorous of our vines, huge long canes every year. If we can get it trellised properly the fruit is very nice, large clusters with large grapes. A fairly delicate wine a little more golden than Seyval Blanc.

Esprit – This one is promising. An Elmer Swenson variety with a delicate appearance on the GDC. Fairly vigorous. We haven’t gotten a full harvest yet but the wine will be light colored and delicate.

Orion – Ripened too late for our region so we removed it.