The first domestic grapevines were cultivated along the Black Sea. Not long after, grapes were carried along trade routes to the Middle East. Because grapevines are among the first fruits to have been cultivated, there is very little mystery to their care. The major focus of grapevine care is in pruning a vine to promote vigorous fruit production. With proper care, a grapevine can live well over 50 years.
Erect a trellis by digging post holes in either end of your grape vine row. The post holes should be 1/3 of the length of your 4X4 posts. Place a post into each of the post holes and fill with dirt. Attach wire to the posts using clothesline bolts.
Dig a planting hole for each grapevine along your trellis row. Grape vines should be spaced approximately 8 feet apart in rows that are separated by 9 feet. Place the root ball into the planting hole and fill in with soil. Mulch with straw to prevent weeds from crowding out your grapevines.
Water your grapevines sparingly. Grapes should receive enough water from rain to nourish them throughout the year. In times of drought, water at the roots with a soaker hose. Grape vines should never get wet, because the fruit that they bear can rot.
Allow grape vines to grow unchecked until the spring of their second year, then prune away all but the heartiest vine. Drive a stake into the ground next to this vine and loosely tie it upright. The vine should grow directly up to the trellis wire.
During the spring of the plant's third year, prune away all but the strongest two side shoots. Tie these vines to the top wire of the trellis, stretching away from the vine in each direction, then pinch out the top of the trunk to encourage development along the side shoots.
Fertilize once each spring after the third year with a 10-20-20 fertilizer. Do not fertilize the vines during their first two years of growth.
Remove plant ties as the plant establishes its own tendrils around the trellis to prevent the ties from cutting off circulation to the plant. Pull weeds by hand or dig around the base of the plant lightly to avoid disturbing the root system. Mulch around roots to hold in water and choke out weeds.
Prune your grapevines back in late winter or early spring. Select the canes that you will leave to produce fruit next year, then select renewal spurs. These are canes that you will prune back to one or two buds this year. The renewal spurs will produce new canes that will produce fruit in two years. Remove all canes that are not renewal spurs or one-year canes. Cut back renewal spurs.
Use a pruning formula to determine where to prune each shoot on your one-year growth. To do this, estimate the total weight of the canes that you have removed. Leave 20 to 30 buds on the vine for the first pound of weight that you remove, and another 10 buds for each additional pound.