Grapes are old-world plants that came to Texas with the first settlers. Once in Texas, those settlers worked to develop Texas-friendly varieties, to take advantage of the seasonal and weather conditions throughout the state. Today, gardeners grow grapes depending on their region, as Texas falls into USDA growing zones 6 to 9 and offers areas with long, subtropical summers and areas with long, harsh winters. To plant and nourish your own grape vineyard, start with the right grape choice and follow important planting and care guidelines.
Plant grapes in early spring, when the frost comes off the ground, to give them a long summer growing season. In southern Texas, the last frost falls as early as February 21 in Brownsville, March 15 in Port Lavaza and March 21 in Austin. In colder northern areas like Wichita Falls, frost lasts until April 13, and may stay on the ground as long as May 9 in Dalhart.
Choose the right variety of grapes for your region. In southern Texas, where summers are long and warm, plant any variety. Some grapes take 150 to 200 frost-free growing days to mature, and can do so only in southern growing regions. In east or north Texas, where summers are shorter and cooler, choose grapes proven in Texas, like Muscadine, Cabernet Sauvignon, cold-hardy Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Ruby Cabernet, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.
Find a site that gets full sun for at least eight hours every day, with complete drainage. Choose an elevated site to keep the plants out of frost areas or puddling. If you have a south-facing slope, plant the grapes there.
Amend planting sites at 10 feet on the row and leave 10 feet between rows during your planning. Design your rows to run with the prevailing wind, to encourage wind pollination during the bloom. Mix a combination of half quick-draining soil and half organic compost into the top 24 to 36 inches of each planting site, to give grapes efficient drainage and acidic nutrition.
Plant grapes in holes that are as deep as their root balls and twice as wide, in your amended soil. Make sure the grapes have amended soil both around and below their root balls after planting, and sit with their crowns at soil level. Fill amended soil around their roots to eliminate air pockets, then water with 2 inches of water each.
Put a trellis system behind the grapes to use once they're older. Spread 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the grapes to maintain soil moisture and warmth, and to discourage disease and weeds.
Water the grapes with 2 inches of water every week to maintain good soil moisture, and weed the plot weekly. Grapes cannot survive with competition from weeds or grasses.