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Grapes for South Dakota

Winter temperatures and other environmental factors in South Dakota limit grape production to hybrid cultivars. The southern half of the state with its longer growing season and less damaging winter temperatures is more suited for grape production. A beginning producer should select early-maturing grape cultivars that have good cold hardiness. Before choosing a cultivar determine how the grapes will be used as different cultivars are recommended for juice, jam/jelly or wine. Start small and learn the characteristics of the cultivars you have selected before planting on a large scale. For more information of grapevine winter survival in South Dakota go to this link on grapevine coldhardiness.

Purchase vines and cuttings from licensed nurseries ( to avoid importing insect and disease problems into South Dakota. Please note that several of these cultivars are patented. If you purchase vines or cuttings from licensed nursery the royalties have already been paid. If you are propagating your own materials, you are responsible for paying the fees. Click here for more information


Also know as Hasansky Sladky and Varajane Sinine. Blue-skinned berry, low tannin, moderate acidity. Makes light fruity wine, cherry aroma and brillant red coloring using whole cluster fermentation.



Hardy. Excellent wine grape for this region, ripens mid-late September. Frontenacs deep garnet color complements its distinctive cherry aroma and inviting palate of blackberry, black currant, and plum. This versatile grape can be made into a variety of wine styles, including rosé, red, and port. Need to wait for acidity to come down before picking. Cane prune and cluster thin to keep vine from overproducing. Good disease resistance and tolerance of 2,4-D. Minnesota patented cultivar. See link to UMN enologist recommendations for making wine with Frontenac. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Grape Breeding.


Marquette, released in 2006 is a high sugar and moderate acidity red wine grape. It has an open orderly growth habit. University of Minnesota indicates that it has good resistance to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot. Finished wines are complex, with attractive ruby color, pronounced tannins, and desirable notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate. As a red wine, Marquette represents a new standard in cold hardy viticulture and enology. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Grape Breeding.


  St. Croix:
Hardy to about minus 28 Fahrenheit. Roots are susceptible to damage in open winters. Matures mid-season, low acid, Vinifera-like, with good fruit and low tannin. Achieves 18–20 brix with moderate acidity. Cluster thin to keep good sugar levels, prune to short canes.




White wine grape developed by Elmer Swenson. Berries are greenish gold to gold when fully ripe in early to mid September. Wine is balanced with pineapple nose and flavor. Also makes a flavorful white juice. Should be winter hardy in Southern S.D. Trial in Central to North S.D.

Edelweiss was introduced by Elmer Swenson and the University of Minnesota. This very early ripening, white grape produces large clusters, and is primarily for table, juice and jelly uses. It has a pleasing Labrusca flavor that becomes more pronounced with increased ripening. When the fruit is harvested early, it can also make a sweet white wine with mild, fruity labrusca flavor. Ripens early season. The vines have excellent disease resistance but may require winter protection for reliable fruiting in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 and 3. Some growers have found this cultivar difficult to establish.

  Frontenac Gris:
A white sport of Frontenac. It has gray/light red fruit and growth habit like Frontenac. It is a mid-season variety. Frontenac gris wines present aromas of peach and apricot with hints of enticing citrus and tropical fruit. A brilliant balance of fruit and acidity creates lively, refreshing wines. Unique and complex flavors make this an excellent grape for table, dessert, and ice wines. Minnesota patented cultivar. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Grape Breeding.

  Kay Gray:
Hardy. Vigorous white grape, cane prune, harvest grapes before full maturity (15–18 brix). The must is susceptible to oxidation; avoid exposing juice, must and wine to air.
  La Crosse:
Winter protection in most South Dakota locations. White wine grape with Seyval Blanc parentage. Sugar content of 19–21 brix. Good varietal wines have been made in a dry and semi-dry style and are clean, fruity, with good acidity.

Hardy white wine grape released by the University of Minnesota in 2002. Ripens early to golden-brown color, but acidity remains high. La Crescents intense nose of apricot, peach, and citrus lends itself to superior quality off-dry or sweet white wines. Produced in a Germanic style, La Crescent wine is reminiscent of Vignoles or Riesling. The grapes high acidity provides good structure for excellent dessert or late-harvest style wines. Moderately susceptible to powdery and downy mildew. May be susceptible to spring frost in areas that warm up early. Minnesota patented cultivar. Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Grape Breeding.

  Louise Swenson:
Hardy white wine grape. Low sugar but moderate acidity. The wine has a typical delicate aroma of flowers and honey. Wine is light in body. Blending with a variety such as Prairie Star makes it a more complete wine. Louise Swenson rarely exceeds 20 Brix, even if left to hang past midseason. Acidity is moderate and needs no reduction. Breaks bud relatively late in spring. It has an orderly growth habit, with moderate vigor on most sites. May be sensitive to drought. Mildew resistance and good winter hardiness.
  Prairie Star:
Hardy white wine grape. Neutral wine generally used for blending with lighter white wines to add body to other white wines like Louise Swenson. In some years the wine has floral nose allowing it to stand alone as a varietal. Moderately resistant to powdery and downy mildew.
  Seyval Blanc:
(SV 5-276 French-American (FA) hybrid): Needs winter protection. Produces quality dry white wine with grassy, hay, and melon aromas. Ripens mid-season. Vigorous, need to prune to short canes or spurs, tends to over bear. Cluster thin to ensure proper ripening and wood maturation.
  St. Pepin:
Winter protection in most S.D. locations. White early ripening grape. When well ripened, fruit quality is similar to Reisling. Also good juice or table grape. This variety is pistillate (flowers female only) and must be planted near other grape varieties that bloom at same time (LaCrosse) for cross pollination.
  Swenson White:

Hardy white wine grape. Ripens late in the season. It can have a slightly labrusca flavor and tends toward lower sugar. Wine has pronounced flowery nose and a long fruity finish. Could do well for late harvest or ice wine. Disease resistant.



Hardy. Blue. Flavorful jelly, acceptable juice.


Hardy. Blue juice or fresh table grape, large berries, ripens mid-September. Will have iron chlorosis problems at pH levels greater than 7.5.


Moderately hardy. White juice or wine grape. Has foxy flavor and is acidic.


  King of the North:
Late ripening Concord style grape that originated in Wisconsin.

Pink seedless table grape selected by University of Arkansas.  Medium size clusters and berries.  Trial in South Dakota.

Seedless grape selected by Elmer Swenson.  Hardy to about -30F.


  Swenson Red:
May need winter protection. Red table grape, large berries, thin edible skin, seeded, fruit keeps well in refrigerator.


Hardy. Blue. Good juice, jelly or table grape. Cane training systems recommended. This grape has a tendency to overbear; growers may need to cluster thin. Cultivar licensed with the S.D. Landscape and Nursery Association.


Hardy. Blue table and juice grape. Early ripening Concord seedling.