The Best Grapes for Growing a Successful Vineyard

Under the California sunlight is not the only place where you can grow a successful vineyard. Nowadays, you can grow grapevines just about anywhere. Since grapevines are naturally adaptable, even areas with extreme climates are now considered suitable for grape growing. Beginners should start off with a grape variety that does particularly well in their particular area or growing zone.

When deciding on a grape variety, remember that your location will have everything to do with your grape growing experience. Did you know that a grape variety that is grown in California will taste much different than that same variety grown in France? That is because soil and weather conditions contribute to the wines specific personalities. You can find out which varieties of grapes grow well in your area by talking to local vintners.

There are over five thousand different types of grape varieties including hybrids. Grape growers who live in areas where the growing season is shorter are limited to the hybrid grape varieties. Grapevines have been bred to last through cooler climates and to be more resistant to disease. But, it is the climate condition in your area that will mostly determine the varieties of grapes that you can grow successfully. Although grape hybrids can grow in cooler conditions, not every grape variety flourishes in every region of the world. You will still need to know the length of your growing season to determine what variety of grape will work best for you. The growing season is the average number of frost-free days. Some of the different grape varieties require longer growing seasons to fully ripen.

Wine grapes are all the same species known as vitis vinifera. However, within this species, there are hundreds of cultivars that vary in their characteristics. Vitis vinifera grapes are used for the production of wine because they have a tight skin perfect for making wine. It is the species that yields over ninety-nine percent of the world’s wines.

There are also red grapes and white grapes. Both types can be used to make wine. Some red grape varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Some of the white grape varieties include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sylvaner and Chenin Blanc. Vitis vinifera grapes come from the Mediterranean region, southwestern Asia, Spain, and central Europe. American grapes originated from the Vitis labrusca, and are found in Canada and the eastern United States.

Wine grapes are smaller in comparison to other types of grapes and usually seeded. They have thick skins, which is what is why they are so desirable since much of the aroma in wine comes from the skin. The grape species that are used for wine also tend to be very sweet. When these grapes are harvested, their juice is about twenty-four percent sugar by weight.

And while seventy-one percent of the world’s grapes are used for making wine, there are many other reasons to grow grapes. Grapes are also used for eating and as a dry fruit. They can be made into jelly, vinegar, candy, grape seed extract, seed oil, and jam.

How to Tend to a Grape Vine Growing on a Trellis

Grape vines will naturally grow on a variety of structures like fences, trees or walls. Therefore it is important to establish a well-constructed structure that your grape vines can use as an anchor. A trellis system is important because grape vines cannot support the weight of a full harvest by themselves.

There are many different ways to build a trellis. Some trellises are built for functionality while others are meant to add to the landscape of the home. They can be simple or complex, and you can build it yourself or contract the job out to professionals. It all depends on the taste of the grape grower.

A trellis can come in an array of different shapes and sizes in order to suit the needs of the grape grower. They can be made out of a variety of different materials such as iron, pre-treated wood, stainless steel, PVC pipe, or aluminum. The height of the trellis depends on the area where the grapes are growing. Shorter trellises are used in colder climates, since a trellis that is shorter has a better chance of withstanding winter weather. It also makes it easier for the grape grower to prepare the grape vine for winter. Taller trellises can be used in warmer climates. Shorter trellises use posts that are about three feet high while larger trellises require a post that is about eight feet high. While every trellis system is different, there is one thing that they all have in common – they must be sturdy and well made. Since a grape vine usually takes a few years to produce any grapes, the trellis system is going to be in place for a while.

The trellis system should be placed in the yard so that the grape vines will be exposed to a good amount of sunlight and good air movement. Natural sunlight and good air movement are huge factors in ripening the grapes and controlling grape diseases. After you have found the best location for your trellis, you should cement the posts that will support the trellis into the ground. Some grape growers secure their trellis posts by using catch wires anchored to the ground or by placing another much shorter post set in the ground next to the main post. The posts should be set into the ground about eight feet apart. Two rows of galvanized steel wire should be run between the posts. The first wire row runs along the bottom of the posts about three inches from the ground. The second wire needs to run along the top of the posts. A staple gun can be used to staple the wires in place.

As soon as your grape vines starts growing, you will want to start training them to grow on the trellis. This can take years. The main shoot that is growing should be tied vertically to the trellis. You can use string to do this. String will not damage the shoot like wire could. Grape vines grow very slowly, and after the next dormant period, two shoots from either side of the main shoot should be tied horizontally to the trellis. These shoots will serve as the base for the fruit.


How to Plant and Grow a Successful Grape Vine

Doesn’t the thought of relaxing with a bottle of great tasting wine sound luxurious? The thought of sipping on wine that you made yourself sounds even better. Planting and growing a successful grape vine is not as complicated as it might seem, and it is the first step in making this dream a reality.

It is up to you to decide how large you want your vineyard to be. If you are just getting started it is a good idea to plant only a few vines. And by a “few”, I mean ten. It takes about ten vines to make homemade wine since most homemade wines are made in five- gallon batches. You can obtain year old bare-rooted dormant grape vines from a nursery to start off with. Typically, these vines have been grown by the nursery in their fields. The vines are usually sold in early spring which is a good climate for grape vine planting. The early spring rains will benefit your grape vines and give them a chance to settle in before the growing season begins. But until your vines are ready to be planted, keep the vines moist by spraying them with water.

Planting your vines is quite easy and straightforward. You will need to dig a hole large enough to contain the root system. The buds on the vine should not be covered with soil. Gently hold your vine in the hole while you tap the soil down lightly. This allows any remaining air pockets to be removed from the soil. If you leave a slight depression around the base of the vine, it makes it easier to water them. After the vine is well planted in the soil, you do not need to water the dormant vines if the soil is damp.

After your vines begin to show signs of life you will need to make sure that your soil remains moist. Sometimes if you get a few good soaking showers, you may not have to water your vines. But if the rainfall in your area is weak, you will need to add water to your vines. Sandy soils need to be watered more often. Clay-based soils need to be watered less often since clay absorbs and retains water longer. With any kind of soil, proper soil drainage is required. With the proper drainage, you do not need to worry about too much rain soaking your vines.

Another aspect of growing a successful grape vine is ensuring that your vines get the right amount of sunlight and air flow. You should not plant your grape vines near trees or structures that can block sunlight and prevent air circulation. In order for plants to undergo photosynthesis, they need sunlight. Photosynthesis is the process that converts carbon dioxide into sugar. It is the sugar within the grapes that becomes alcohol after fermentation. As a result of poor air circulation and too little sunshine, grapes can suffer from fungus disease problems.

Growing a successful grape vine can be a reality for you. Be prepared to give your vineyard year-round attention. It can take up to three years for a grape vine to produce a crop of grapes but, when you have put the time and effort into your vines, the rewards from your first group of grapes will be that much sweeter.

How to Grow Grape Vines in the Right Soil

Growing vines in the right soil is the most pivotal feature of grape growing. The type of soil, its mineral, content and the environmental conditions all play an extremely important role in the health and productivity of the grape vine. Before you plant your grape vines you should have your soil analyzed. Adding nutrients to soil that is lacking is easy, but removing unwanted excess nutrients is nearly impossible. Grape vines are fairly adaptable and don’t need much to feed on, meaning they do well in rich, highly organic soils. A positive aspect of growing grapes vines that do not require excessive amounts of nutrients is that a lack of nutrients within the soil will help prevent excessive weed growth. But if your soil test is showing too much nutrient deficiency, you should look to a professional for advice on how to establish good soil for your grape vines. If the wrong adjustments are made to the soil, it could have significant impact on your vines, resulting in excessive unwanted vine and leaf growth in some regions. Something that should also be measured is the soil’s pH level. The soil can be alkaline or acidic depending on the region of the country you are growing your grape vines in and the surrounding waterways and other natural formations. A pH that is between 6.0 and 6.5 is perfect for grape vine nutrient intake. You may need to incorporate lime if your soil is acidic meaning that the pH is lower then 6.0. If your soil is basic, or higher then 7.0, you may need to find rootstock that has been adapted to limestone soil conditions.

It may be necessary to add fertilizer to the soil during the time in which the grapes are ripening and after the first harvest season. The nutrients within the soil will be depleted as the grape vine matures and produces fruit. The use of organic fertilizer like manure has risen among grape growers for many different reasons. One reason is that manure is a natural source of usable nitrogen. The type of manure you need depends upon the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium your vineyard soil requires.

The nutrients within the soil are not the only requirements needed for growing a healthy grape vine. The soil must also supply good anchorage for the vine and provide proper drainage. Grape vines that are grown in soil that has too many nutrients and water go “vegetative”. This means that the grape vines will return to leaf growth and will stop producing fruit. Grape vines do not like to sit in puddles and will not grow well in really wet areas. The most established vine yards are well known for excellent drainage. A need for good drainage is one of the many reasons why many vineyards are planted on hillsides. Not only do steep hillsides aid in the drainage of the crop, they also are typically low in nutrient or organic matter due to years of erosion. In addition to a trellis, the grape vine’s root system requires ample anchorage from the soil as well in order to support this large plant. They require about thirty to forty inches of loose soil in order to establish a wide root system.

Growing Grapes at Home

Growing grapes at home in your green house is not that much different from how they are grown in a large vineyard. The only real difference is space. There are several facets to growing healthy grapevines that need to be considered by both large vineyards and the home grower. The most important aspect of all these is tending to the vines. This will entail soil preparation, water, sunlight, pruning, and pest control. For many home grape growers, it is the pruning and the pest control that can be the most tedious.

Put simply, pruning is cutting away plant growth to encourage more growth. How the grapevine is pruned depends a lot upon the type of grapes that are being grown. Since hybrid grape varieties were developed to be hardier during the winter and more resistant to diseases, they tend to produce less foliage then the traditional types of grapevines. Grapevines need to be pruned to remove the previous years fruiting canes or spurs. Grapes are only produced on shoots growing from one-year-old canes. Therefore, healthy new canes must be produced by the vine every year. If too much of the vine is pruned back, more shoots will grow on the vine, which in turn, produces more crop and foliage. But this is actually a disadvantage since increased foliage on a vine results in a shady canopy, and this provides a bad environment for the fruit to ripen. The home grape grower has to be careful when pruning to avoid any unnecessary injury to the plant. When removing year-old shoots, a hand pruner can be used effectively. Larger wood on the vine should be cut with either a lopper or a handsaw.

The home grape grower spends a lot of their time dealing with pests like insects, birds and even deer. There are a large number of insects, like grape berry moths, grape leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, and rose chafers that would love to dine on a delicious grapevine. Insecticides can be used to control insect infestation but typically, grapevines can withstand a small amount of insect damage. It is only necessary to control insects when a large portion of the leaf area or the fruit itself is threatened.

Birds, on the other hand, can be much more destructive. A flock of birds can devastate a crop of grapes but, on the bright side, a large flock of birds is easier to scare away than individual birds. Home grape growers can control birds by installing a physical barrier, like a net, over all of the vines. But it has to be taken down before the winter or ice could form on it and damage the vines. Home grape growers can also use visual repellents such as aluminum pie plates, artificial hawks, owls, or snakes. Odor repellents are something that are very effective when it comes to controlling deer. In early spring when shoots are just emerging from the vine and food sources are scarce, home grown vineyards are extremely tempting for the deer. Home grape growers can also use the scent of a human, dog hair, or soap to scare off unwanted birds. Additionally, the scent of coyotes can also be used since coyotes are natural predators to deer.

Grape Growing

Although there are many other uses for these delectable fruits, grapes are the basis for most of the world’s wine. About seventy-one percent of grapes from around the world are used for wine making, twenty-seven percent are used as fresh fruit, and the remaining two percent of the grapes are used in the form of dry fruit.

There are other types of fruits that are used to create wines, but it is the grape that may just be the perfect fruit for wine making. Grapes contain the right properties to produce wine. Such characteristics of grapes include naturally-high amounts of fermentable sugar, strong flavors, and color in the skins. Grape species have also been refined to deliver the utmost in aroma and flavor. Typically, grape juices are prepared from Vitis labrusca grapes, which are a grape species that is native to the Americas, because these grapes have loose skin that can be easily peeled off. Vitis vinifera grapes, which is a species of grape that is native to Europe and East and Central Asia, but has been planted all over the world, have a tight skin and can also be used for the production of wine. Grapes are also highly nutritional. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and they are cholesterol-free.

Although smaller then the productive vineyards all over the world, many people have succeeded in growing their own grapes at home and even in producing their own wine. Although the time it takes to tend to a small flourishing vineyard is great, the techniques to grow healthy grapevines is minimal. Home grape growers start their vineyards by finding a spot in their yard that possesses optimal conditions in which to successfully grow grapes. First, the area must have good exposure to sunlight and good drainage. After a good rainfall, examine the area you wish to grow your grapes for standing water. Standing water is a good indication that the area does not have sufficient drainage. Planting your vineyard on a slope will also provide the drainage needed to sustain grapevines. A slope can also reduce the grapevine’s exposure to heat or cold depending on its orientation. For example, in the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere, grapevines benefit from being planted on south facing slopes which offers exposure to a fair amount of heat and sunlight. Tending a vineyard will require daily care. Plant your vineyard where it can be easily accessed during the growing season for pruning, weeding and pest control. You should also make sure that tools and water are easily accessible as well.

Once you have the perfect location for your vineyard, you will need to prepare the soil and construct the trellis. Grapevines are a large plant that and are unable to sustain the weight of the grape clusters it produces. In the wild, grapevines can be found growing on structures like poles and fences. Grapes are perennial plants and therefore it will be about three years before you are able to harvest your first crop. Therefore it is very important to have a sturdy trellis that will last.

Once you are able to harvest your crop, you will be able to make your own wine. The amazing thing about grapes is that the soil and the area in which the grapes are grown will have a significant impact on the taste of the wine thereby making your wine truly unique.