The Best Wine Grapes for Growing in the Northeast


You might not consider the soil of the northeast United States as ideal for growing grapes. Aside from varied soil conditions, it has an unpredictable climate that does not easily lend itself to growing grapes. Yet several states in the northeast--New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut, among others--grow grapes for wine. New York's Finger Lakes region and the north fork of Long Island have well-established vineyards. The state in total has more than 31,000 acres of vineyards and hundreds of farms harvesting grapes. Pennsylvania is another main grape producer in the northeast. In fact, the nation's first commercial grapevine nursery was in southeastern Pennsylvania. The northeast's soil and climate conditions enable a number of wine grapes to grow there.


  • Vineyards in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York make up the three states known as the "concord wine belt". Of them, New York has the most vineyards producing the Concord grape varietal. This white grape varietal is native to the U.S. Concord grapes have lower sugar content than European varietals and are considered disease-resistant. Winemakers use them to make wines such as Manischewitz and Mogen David--two variations of sweet wine.


  • The Niagara grape varietal is the second highest grape varietal produced by New York vineyards. The white grape does well in cooler climates of the Northeast as well as the Pacific Northwest. It's known for its strong grape aroma and distinctive flavor, tasting similar to non-alcoholic grape juice. While some vineyards produce a Niagara wine, the grape is usually used as a white wine blend.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Pennsylvania has some of the best conditions for growing the Cabernet Sauvignon grape varietal. It's a red grape variety used on its own to produce Cabernet Sauvignon wine or blended with other grape varietals for a unique tasting wine blend. It's known for its complex flavor notes of black currants, plum and cherry. Depending on the winemaker, the grape can produce wine with a smoky or peppery flavor. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape usually makes a bold, dry wine.


  • Chambourcin is also a popular grape grown in Pennsylvania. It's a hybrid (e.g., made from crossing two or more grape varietals of different wine species) red grape varietal. Wine producers usually blend this grape with another grape varietal, like pinot noir, to create a more interesting aromatic blend. The Chambourcin grape is considered a big fruit wine. The taste of berries and cherries is commonly noticed. Wine produced from this grape also has a hint of vanilla or oak in its flavor. It's a medium-bodied wine.

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