How to Grow Grapes

A guide to growing your own grapes

Planting your own grape vine can yield delicious rewards. Many local nurseries sell varieties such as red Flame Seedless or Crimson Seedless, green Thompson seedless or black Concord grapes. All Sun World branded varieties are exclusively grown on our farms or those of licensed growers. But we’re happy to share some professional tips on growing your own.

Climate

Before taking up grape growing, it’s important to consider the environment. Grapes generally require a hot and dry climate where temperatures range from 60-105˚ F (15-40˚C). The climate should experience mild winters, little humidity and limited annual rainfall. If your home is not in this type of climate, your grapes may not thrive.

Soil

While grapes tolerate a fairly wide range of soil chemistry and conditions, there are a few things you can do to give your grapes the best soil possible:

  • Prior to planting, conduct a pH test with a commercial testing kit (available in stores). A pH of 5.5 – 7.0 is generally recommended for grapes.
  • Drainage is also very important. To test your soil, dig a 12x12x12 inch hole, fill it with water and allow it to drain for 30 minutes to an hour. Refill the hole with water and let it stand. If it has drained within 24 hours, your soil drains well enough to support healthy grapevines. If not, it may be too dry.
  • Sandy loam, silt loam and clay loam soils drain well, contain nutritious organic matter and lie within the preferred pH range.

Planting

The best time to plant grapevines is in early spring. When choosing where to plant, it’s important to remember that roots will grow about 3-6 feet from the base. Therefore, a grapevine should be planted with a gap of 8 feet between it and any other plant.

Watering

When grapevines are young, proper watering is essential. Newly planted grapes need immediate watering to minimize transplant shock. Throughout the first growing season, vines should be watered at least weekly in the absence of rainfall. Water should be sufficient to wet the soil 6-10 inches beneath the surface (3-4 cups).

Fertilizing

To keep track of whether your grapevine is getting adequate nutrients, check its leaves. Dark green leaves are good. If the color starts fading, add fertilizer. You can use store-bought fertilizer or compost.

Trellis

As your grapevine grows, you’ll need to build a trellis to support the plant’s natural desire to climb. Teaching your vine to follow a trellis often takes time and a lot of patience.

Pruning

Letting vines grow without pruning will produce little fruit. In your plant’s first growing season, trim most of the shoots leaving only two to four to grow. Over time, continue to prune branches that have already produced fruit. Pruning during spring is recommended.

Harvesting

Sample your grapes to determine whether or not they’re ready for harvest. A grape’s sweetness and flavor is the only true test for maturity. Ripe grapes should taste sweet, flavorful and mildly acidic. Some stores also carry kits to help determine the ripeness of your grapes.

We hope these pointers on how to grow grapes at home help you cultivate your own beautiful grapevines. With the right care and lots of patience, you’ll be enjoying homegrown grapes for years to come. You can learn more about types of grape vines here.