Grapevines are the quintessential plants to grow in your backyard. They last forever, provide fruit for the table, for wine, for jelly and provide a source of shade for your patio. The clippings can be bundled for kindling, used for smoking meats or you can start new plants. If someone offers you the chance to transplant a young grapevine, take it and enjoy the benefits for years to come.
Prune the vine back to only about 18 inches from the ground. This might be a challenge in larger grapevines, but without it, the stresses of moving will probably kill the vine. If possible, you should transplant in the early spring before the buds have started to swell. Ron Smith, a horticulturist from North Dakota State University, advises that you do not even try to move an old vine because their root system is massive and it is far easier to take a cutting and root it unless you have access to tree-moving equipment.
Dig up the roots. Again, this is worth doing only on younger vines or you will have trouble even getting a shovel into the ground. Start about 12 inches out from the trunk after you have pruned it back and dig down about a shovel's depth. Work your way all around the vine. Dig down until you are about 18 inches deep and then work your way under the roots. You will probably need to clip roots either with the sharp edge of your shovel or with pruning shears as you dig.
Pry the root ball out of the hole with shovels, pry bars or lumber. Lay it on its side and work the soil loose around the roots until you have reduced the mass of the root ball to be manageable. Shake the remaining soil from the roots and push the soil back into the old hole to fill it back in.
Set the grapevine into a container of water to keep it hydrated while you prepare the new site. Make sure all the roots are submerged.
Dig the new hole in a sunny spot where the vine will have good drainage. Make it as deep and wide as the roots are, plus a few inches more. Do not add any fertilizer into the hole or you run the risk of burning the roots, but you can add peat moss or sand if your soil is high in clay.
Inspect the roots and trim off any broken or extra long ones. Place the well-trimmed vine into the prepared hole, spreading out the roots at the bottom. Fill in the soil, tamping it down as you go until the area is level with the ground.
Water the grapevine immediately with 2 to 3 gallons of water. If the soil sinks down around the vine, add a few inches more of soil and water again. The water will displace any air pockets, settling the soil as it drains. Keep the soil moist until you see new growth and then water only during seasons of drought.