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How to Plant Grapes in California

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

California is known for its fine wines and several areas known as “the wine country.” Many other types of grapes grow well in California, from the Thompson seedless grapes of the hot Central Valley to the red flame and Concord grapes that you can grow in your backyard in many inland locations. Grapes are not suited to coastal areas or the high mountains, but they’ll do well for you whether you live in Los Angeles or farther north in the San Francisco Bay area.

Select a type of grape that does well in your area. Do you want to grow a table grape or perhaps experiment with a Chardonnay or Merlot for wine? The staff at your neighborhood nursery can assist you in making your decision.

Choose the location where you will plant your grapevines. Grapes favor rows that run from north to south because they will receive more and better sun than vines in rows that run from east to west. Grapes also grow well on south-facing slopes, and they need good soil drainage.

Prepare the planting area in early spring by clearing all weeds and then tilling the soil. If your soil is clay, which is common in many parts of California, improve it by mixing in sawdust, well-composted animal manure or compost.

Examine the vines’ roots and cut off any that are broken or scraggly. Also, prune off all but one of the existing canes (vines) so it has just two buds, or nodes, above the connection point to the main trunk.

Dig planting holes that are large enough to spread out the vines’ roots. Be sure to dig your holes at the same approximate depth as the vines were deep in their nursery pots or bags.

Set your vines in their planting holes, spread out their roots and firm the soil around the base. Growers recommend that you plant grapevines in a small depression to allow flooding when you water. Water your new plants well, and provide a stake for support.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Bare root grape vines
  • Sawdust, well-composted animal manure or compost
  • Shovel

Tip

  • Consider building an arbor or trellis to keep your vines tidy and off the ground.

Warning

  • Never import grapevines from other states because they might introduce viruses and a disease called Phylloxera.

About the Author

 

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.