After any number of grape tests, it turns out that the Concord seems to work the best here. Not for wine, obviously - who wants to drink a wine that tastes like jelly? But it grows and produces better than any of the other half dozen varieties I tried.
Frontenac comes in a close second - it grew and produced a few grapes a year. Cabernet grew a little and produced nothing. All the others burned down, fell off, and then sank into the swamp. So Concord it is, and here comes the jelly. Expansion time*.
But who wants to buy a bunch of grape vines? Not I, so I'll be trying a couple of different ways to clone my favorite vine from cuttings.
Everyone, it seems, has a surefire way to start new plants. One guy makes his cuttings, lets them sit for a few weeks until they callous on the ends, another puts them in water to root. But I saw one dude who is a slacker after my own heart: he dips his cuttings in rooting hormone and just sticks them in the dirt.
In fairness, he seemed to have a little less success with this method than some of the others. Also in fairness, I have no problem planting twice as many cuttings as I'll need grapevines, so long as the process is simple. Also in fairness**, he did his cuttings in the spring, when the growth had recently kicked in. I'm doing it in winter, which might work or might not.
But last night I made a few cuttings, stuck them in some left-over potting mix, and left them in a kind-of well-lit spot in the workshop. If they take root, great, and I'll do it again. If not, I'll try it again in the spring. But one way or another, that 60' of fence line I cleared yesterday is going to be populated by grapes, raspberries, and blackberries soon.
* Of course, none of my renewed emphasis on food production this year has anything to do with the civil war being waged within our federal government. And by none I mean all.
** My, aren't we being fair today?