Growing grapes for winemaking is a tradition that has survived for thousands of years. If you enjoy wine and like the idea of working outside, then developing your own vineyard could be the hobby for you. Growing your on grapes for wine is a difficult, but very rewarding activity. Different grapes require specific climates, levels of sun exposure, and wine making techniques. There a number of important considerations and steps that must be taken in order to develop your own successful vineyard.
Deciding on a Grape Variety
The first step to creating a rich vineyard is deciding on what type of grape you would like to use. There are a number of considerations that you must take into account in order to determine the best grape for your wine making purposes:
Climate considerations should be foremost in your mind. Determine the length of you growing season and obtain the average summer and winter temperatures. Grapes thrive in warm temperatures but require periods of dormancy caused by mild to low winter temperatures; as a side note grapes will die if the winter temperature is too cold, beware a climate that has many winter and spring freezes.
The next consideration is sun exposure and moisture. Grapes require a large amount of sunlight; try to face them toward the south or south-west. Grapes typically prefer slightly dry conditions, in fact, if there is too much moisture in a region can cause grape plants to be more susceptible to disease.
Have your soil tested for acidity, depth, and composition. Keep these results in written form for use when you decide on a grape.
Visit a Local Nursery
The best way to get correct, professional advice is to visit a nursery that deals in grape vines. With the knowledge you have gained from studying your climate and soil test results you should have no problem deciding on a grape vine with the assistance of a nursery professional. You will also be able to purchase the vines on the spot once you have made your decision.
Selecting a Spot to Plant the Grapes
Grapes are moderately choosy when it comes to growing sites. They need to be moist, but not too moist; therefore they require excellent drainage. They require excellent drainage, but they also need very nutritious soil. A bit of a complicated problem but there is a simple solution. Just select an area that has deep, rocky soil and good sunlight. The rocks will provide for the drainage and extra nutrients and water can be added.
Planting the Grapes
Plant the grapes to the equivalent depth that they were in the pot sold to you by the nursery, different grapes prefer different depths so these specifications would be outside the scope of this guide. It is important that you take the expansion of the grape vine into account when planting. Grape vines can grow as much as seven feet directly outwards. For this reason you should plant your vines eight feet apart and be sure to keep the surrounding area free of unwanted vegetation.
For the first month after planting you should check your grapes daily to make sure the roots are moist. Once the grapes vines start to grow upward either buy or make a trellis and allow the vines to grow up it. Following this check them during long periods of no precipitation and following any sort of windstorm to make sure they are still undamaged and on the trellis. Check the leaves on a regular basis to make sure that they are a dark rich green. If the leaves are a lighter color add a few inches of compost around the plant to improve the nutrient content of the soil.