The New York State wine industry has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. Yet, many of the varieties used suffer from one or more deficiencies in areas such as wine quality, cold hardiness, disease resistance, and more. Finding the right variety suitable for a particular planting location is of great importance when you consider that a vineyard is expected to remain productive for 30-50 years. New York and the eastern U.S. need new varieties that produce grapes reliably and economically, with reduced pesticide inputs, and make products that the consumer/tourist will enjoy.
The grape breeding program at Geneva named the "Cayuga White' grape, its first wine grape release, in 1972. The grape caught on slowly at first, but one success led to another, and soon it became widely planted throughout the Finger Lakes. More than 25 wineries each year produce wine using Cayuga White. It has become a staple in the industry - it produces a spectrum of wines from dry to sweet to sparkling, and the productivity and price per ton have turned Cayuga White into a cash crop for grape growers. Cayuga White is also cold hardy and disease resistant, so pesticide applications can be reduced.
In New York alone, approximately 800-900 tons of Cayuga White are produced annually, for which growers are paid $300,000 to $400,000. The value of wine sold each year averaged $6 million dollars between 1992 and 2004. Cayuga White has played an important role in the 30+ years since its release. It has helped the growth of the New York wine industry, and has helped attract a growing number of tourists to the wine trails, restaurants, and accommodations in New York's wine regions. The variety requires relatively low amounts of pesticide input. The "Traminette' grape, released in 1996, is following a similar path to success, being planted since release at the rate of more than 30,000 vines per year. The new red wine grape, GR 7, was released in February, 2003, and wine from this grape is already being sold at several New York wineries. A strong wine industry contributes to the rural economy in agricultural areas, and helps resist the pressures to sell land for development.
funding source description
State or Municipal (e.g., NYSDAM)
Federal Formula Funds - Research (e.g., Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, Animal Health)
Other USDA (e.g., Water Quality, Special Grants, NRI)