View Full Version : Wine Grapes from Iowa??

09-15-2010, 10:18 AM
OK, that sounds a bit like the old Gateway magazine ads, "Computers from Iowa?" where they showed a picture of a couple of dairy cows grazing in a pasture... but just as Gateway found that PCs could be "raised" in the midwest, I've found that some vinifera hybrid grape varietals seem to thrive in a climate that I'd never expect could support viticulture.

So, I've been made an offer. It turns out that a farmer in south central Iowa has been growing grapes for an Iowa winery for the past several years, but for one reason or another that winery can't honor its purchase commitment this season, so the grape grower has lots of stock to unload. As a result, I can get St. Vincent varietal grapes, crushed and destemmed, for about 50 to 60 cents/lb. They've also got some native north american varietals (like Concord), but I'm not interested in them so much. I've already made enough foxy wines and meads to last me for a very long time....

Now this is an offer that I can't refuse, provided the timing works out right. The St. Vincents usually ripen around the last week in September or the first week in October, and I'll be back in Iowa at that time. My plan going in is to get crushed/destemmed St. Vincents from the grower, filling up as many 5 gallon buckets as my Jeep can transport (each full 5 gallon bucket should weigh in at around 40 to 50 lbs and should yield around 4 gallons of must after pressing), and bringing them back to Colorado when I next return home. Depending on timing I may have to freeze the buckets in order to preserve quality, but since St. Vincents are on the high side in TA, and since the single biggest impact of freezing grapes is to produce a must lower in TA than fresh crushed/pressed grapes, that might work out for the better.

So I have a question for you Colorado Front Range folks out there. Anyone else interested in a piece of this grape buy? If so, PM me and once I know the final price and the timing of everything, I'll see if we can work something out. ;D One thing to consider that will be an absolute part of this deal - I won't split things up into lots any smaller than a 5 gallon bucket.

09-15-2010, 11:45 AM
Somehow your field assignment doesn't sound so bad. I need to start being sent on trips so I can chat up local growers....

I haven't heard of St Vincent before. What is it like?

09-15-2010, 12:09 PM
I wish I could get in on this... oh well.

How does one handle pressing the grapes at home though, do some LHBS rent out presses?

09-15-2010, 02:01 PM
Here's a good description of St. Vincent grapes: http://viticulture.hort.iastate.edu/cultivars/St.%20Vincent.pdf

And specifically in answer to akueck, you know in order to get the most out of life, you've got to make the best of any situation! ;)

AToE, yes a lot of home brewing/winemaking shops will rent small presses out to their regular customers.

09-15-2010, 04:59 PM
I am an IT guy over at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA and we have a budding Viticulture program here as well in its second year. It sounds like grapes are cropping up a lot of places in the past few years in Iowa.


09-15-2010, 09:10 PM
You're in Cedar Rapids, Brian? What are you doing tomorrow after work?? I'm going to be pouring a couple of my braggots for some guys who work here at U of I tomorrow at around 6:30. Wanna come on down? If so, PM me....