Commercial vineyards produce large quantities of grapes for use in jellies and wines. Many individual gardeners enjoy growing grapes for their own ingredients in a variety of products. Small vineyards serve the dual purpose of enhancing the landscape and supplying culinary ingredients. Different varieties of grapes thrive in certain climates and soil conditions. Many types of grape cultivars grow in cold climates but require special care during heavy frosts and unseasonable cold spells.
Avoid planting grapes in areas that retain chilly temperatures. Cold temperatures tend to lay near the lowest point in the landscape. Avoid planting your grapevines near the bottom of a hill or along a valley to limit the plants' exposure to chilly temperatures. Northern slopes lack adequate amounts of warm sunshine and may shorten the growing season, especially in cold climates. Plant your grapes on the southern slopes of hills. Keep them above the top half of the slope to avoid the cold zone near the bottom. Place your vineyard in an area that receives large amounts of full sunlight. Avoid planting these specimens under large trees or close to structures that block the sun.
Proper fertilization builds the strength of grapevines and encourages healthy growth during the growing season. Use nitrogen fertilizers early in the year to promote strong cultivars. Avoid fertilizing grape plants with nitrogen fertilizers late in the year. The nitrogen causes vigorous growth late in the season, which delays the process of hardening off. Grape plants must harden off before freezing occurs to minimize the impact of cold temperatures on fragile, new growth.
Careful pruning and positioning of grapevines in cold climates minimizes the amount of damage from cold temperatures. Position growing shoots during the summer months to encourage healthy growth and resistance to cold temperatures. Encourage the outward direction of new shoots to decrease the amount of shading. Prune away frost damaged portions of vines to encourage vigorous new growth. Removing damage sections allows the vine to put more energy into developing healthy growth. Remove any low dense branches to encourage air movement.
Grapevines in cold climates occasionally require supplemental heat sources to guard against heavy frosts. Avoid setting bonfires in your vineyard. Although a common method, bonfires can create air currents that draw cold, upper air towards to grapevines. Commercial heaters provide effective sources of heat. Good frost protection requires proper placement of these heaters among the grapevines.