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Establishing a Vineyard in Your Backyard

March 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

This class will cover how to establish and maintain a backyard vineyard. Topics covered include: identifying suitable fruit growing land or modifying your current backyard to grow grapes; how to layout and plant a home vineyard; selecting suitable grape varieties, including heritage grape varieties; trellising and training options; how to prune vines; and how to annually maintain a vineyard to produce bountiful amounts of grapes for wine, juice, or fresh consumption.

Instructed byJ. Stephen Casscles, Esq.

J. Stephen Casscles is a government lawyer with over 35 years of experience in New York State and municipal government. He has dedicated his life to public service and has practiced law in a broad range of areas such as health, insurance, alcoholic beverage control, gaming, agriculture, economic development, municipal finance, and land-use law. 

An enthusiastic viticulturalist, Stephen has a 12-acre farm in Athens, NY, called Cedar Cliff, where he cultivates over 110 different French-American hybrids, 19th Century heritage grape varieties from the Hudson Valley and Massachusetts, and own rooted chance hybrids that he evaluates, makes wine from, and lectures about. In addition, he lectures on wine, grape cultivation, 19th century American horticulture and landscape architecture at botanical gardens and historical societies throughout New York and New England. Mr. Casscles operates a small grape nursery that specializes in propagating rare French-American hybrids, 19th Century heritage grape varieties developed in the Hudson Valley, Boston’s North Shore, the rest of New England, and own rooted chance hybrids identified at his farm Cedar Cliff. He is an award-winning winemaker who currently works at Sabba Estate Vineyards, in Old Chatham, NY and formally of the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, NY (2007-2019) and his wines been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Wine Enthusiast, New York Post, Hugh Johnson’s Annual Pocket Wine Book (2021), and The Albany Times-Union. 

As a regional historian, Stephen authored Grapes of the Hudson Valley and Other Cool Climate Regions of the United States and Canada, which details the history of the Hudson Valley fruit growing industry, how to make wine, establish and maintain a vineyard, and the growing characteristics of over 170 cool climate grape varieties. He is currently working on two new books, The Prince Family Nurseries of Flushing, NY (1720-1869) and The Life and Times of E. S. Rogers and the Heritage Grapes of New England. 

 In addition to his full length works on grape varieties, grape cultivation, and 19th century horticulture,  Stephen is a frequent contributor to academic and trade journals such as Arnoldia of the Arnold Arboretum of Boston, MA, Fruit Notes of U. Mass Amherst, Horticultural News of Rutgers University, Wine Journal of the American Wine Society, New York Fruit Quarterly of the NYS Horticultural Society, and the Hudson Valley Wine Magazine

As a culmination of his horticultural pursuits, Stephen advises and lectures at the Fermentation Sciences Program at SUNY at Cobleskill, and has a working relationship with professors at U-1 University Youngdong, Korea, and with many in the Korean grape and wine industry. 




Interested in a Massachusets Horticultural Society membership? Receive discounts on classes, free garden entry, and more

Learn More




$20 for Mass Hort Members ¦ $30 for General Admission





March 16
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Massachusetts Horticultural Society
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