Grapes are a favorite fruit and are grown in large quantities in many regions around the world for wine. Grapes are relatively easy to grow in your backyard in many climates. Your climate zone and the area where you choose to grow your grapevines are important because grapes are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures.
If you have a sheltered area or a south-facing hill or slope, that's a good area to grow grapes. Make sure your location is sunny and your soil is well drained. Whether you choose to grow table grapes such as Thompson seedless or Concord or want to attempt one of the wine varieties like Chardonnay, the care of all types of grape vines is basically the same.
Caring for Grape Vines
Clear your planting area of all weeds and other unwanted plants. Check your soil pH---grapes need a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 5.5.
Plant grape vines in the spring, about 8 to 9 feet apart in a sunny location with a southern exposure. Take care not to disturb the roots of bare-root grape vines.
Drive sturdy plant stakes into the ground several inches from the base of each vine or provide a trellis near each plant onto which you can train the beginning vines.
Water your grape vines regularly when they are young. As they mature, grapes require less water, and if your annual rainfall amount is more than 40 inches a year, you won't need to water them at all.
Fertilize infrequently and only in the spring. Give each vine about 10 ounces of a 10-20-20 fertilizer or use manure or compost.
Prune your vines during their dormant period in the winter. Cut up to 90 percent of each vine down to the main trunk. Leave four canes (branches) on each side of the vine for optimal fruit production the next summer. Always prune off any damaged canes and older wood.
Control diseases such as bunch rot and powdery mildew by keeping your vines well pruned to provide adequate air circulation.