grape harvesting

Grape Research and Extension


Grape research and extension on Long Island is coordinated through 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 vineyard is located here and includes a winegrape variety trial plus 2-3 additional projects annually. Research projects are also done with cooperating commercial vineyards. The goal of the grape research program is to address practical vineyard management challenges. We work in conjunction with faculty and other specialists at Cornell University as well as with colleagues in other grape growing states. Grape growers play an important advisory role, ensuring that research and educational programs are relevant to the industry. Enology (wine) research is not conducted on Long Island but rather at Cornell Agri-Tech (formerly the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station) in Geneva.

LIHREC Research Vineyard, Riverhead

Since the first vines were planted in 1993, a total of 49 winegrape varieties have been evaluated in the research vineyard at LIHREC. Evaluation of these varieties helps to define which ones thrive in Long Island's maritime climate and sandy soils. Planting a vineyard is expensive, well over $20,000/acre, thus it is important to plant varieties which perform well and are suited to the winemaking goals of the business.

Each season, a written report and yield component data are compiled. Some of the newer selections are processed into small lots of wine (carboy size) by local winemakers. This provides an informal sensory evaluation. Varieties from this trial that are now planted in the industry include Albariño, Auxerrois, the Dijon Chardonnays, Muscat Ottonel, Malvasia Bianca, Verdejo, Dornfelder, Barbera and Lemberger.

Vineyard renovation has been practiced each year, removing varieties with mediocre to poor vineyard performance and replacing them with new vinifera varieties. The vineyard also includes an exploration of disease tolerant hybrids including Itasca, NY 81 (Cayuga White x Riesling) and Regent. Two hybrids of Tocai Friulano will bear fruit in 2022.

The written report on the variety and clonal trial can be viewed in the reports entitled 'Evaluation of Winegrape Cultivars on Long Island' and 'Performance of Selections in the Long Island Winegrape Variety Trial' both of which can be found in 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 second sidebar to the right.

Appellation Cornell, a statewide newsletter on grape research and extension, featured an article on the trial in the May, 2015 issue: 2015 Appellation Cornell Newsletters (

Grape Research Projects

Many projects have taken place over the years, both within the LIHREC vineyard and in commercial vineyards. A major focus has been the evaluation of techniques that promote good environmental stewardship. A short list of projects: performance of organic fungicides and herbicides; evaluation of living mulches (cover crops) for under-vine management; techniques to loosen clusters and toughen berry skins in an effort to reduce susceptibility to late season cluster rots; and more.

Grape Extension Efforts

 The range of extension activities include newsletters, meeting coordination, grower consultations (in person and electronically), consultation with experts at Cornell and beyond, providing information through a website and so on. The largest educational project has been participation in the creation of sustainable viticulture guidelines, both locally and statewide.


Alice Wise
Viticulture Research

Last updated February 29, 2024