grape harvesting

Grape Research

Grape research on Long Island is conducted by personnel employed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. The grape program is based at the Cornell University Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Riverhead. A 2.5 acre research is located here and includes a variety trial and 2-3 additional projects annually. Projects are also done in cooperation with commercial vineyards. The goal of the grape research program is to address practical vineyard management concerns. We work in conjunction with faculty and other specialists at Cornell University including the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva. Grape growers play an important role in an advisory capacity and in day to day contacts, ensuring that research and educational programs are relevant to the industry. Enology (wine) research is not conducted on Long Island but rather at the NYSAES, Geneva.

Brief summaries of the previous season's work can be found on the LIHREC website:

Research reports from previous seasons can be found listed on the right.

Since the first vines were planted in 1993, 49 winegrape varieties have been evaluated in the research vineyard at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, Riverhead, NY. The trial initially focused on the exploration of selections of the three most commercially important varieties, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other white and red varieties have been planted to help define which varieties thrive in Long Island's maritime climate and sandy soils.

Each season, a written report and yield component data are compiled. Some of the newer selections are processed into wine, providing an opportunity for sensory evaluation. Varieties from this trial that are now planted in the industry include the Dijon Chardonnays, Dornfelder, Muscat Ottonel, Lemberger, Malvasia Bianca, Albariño and Barbera.

Vineyard renovation continues annually, removing varieties with mediocre to poor vineyard performance or of little interest to industry members. Dolcetto, Grenache, Gamay, Pinotage, Primitivo and Muscat Blanc are examples. This enables the evaluation of new varieties. In 2008-9, Albariño, Zweigelt, Grüner Veltliner, Auxerrois and Petit Manseng were planted. In 2011, Verdejo was planted, our second Spanish white. This vineyard also includes an  exploration of disease tolerant hybrids such as Marquette, Aromella, NY 81 (Cayuga White x Riesling) and Petite Pearl. With input from the advisory group and industry, renovation of selections in the vineyard will continue, reflecting the evolution in wine styles in the industry. 

The written report on the variety and clonal trial can be viewed in the reports entitled 'Evaluation of Winegrape Varieties and Clones' within the first sidebar on the upper right of this page.

Harvest data from the LIHREC research vineyard can be viewed in data tables listed in the orange sidebar to the right.


Alice Wise
Viticulture Research

Last updated March 11, 2021