California has gained a reputation for being grape and wine country, and for good reason. Successful grape production began in the area as early as the 1800s, and the climate and soil conditions of the state have made it a prime location for vineyards and winemakers. You don't have to own your own vineyard to grow healthy grapes in California; you can plant vines in your own backyard to provide your family with fresh grapes and maybe venture into creating your own wine and jelly concoctions.
Till the soil to a depth of 10 to 15 inches in an area of your garden that receives seven to eight hours of sunlight each day. Mix in one part compost or manure for every four parts soil to increase drainage and nutrient production.
Drive a 6-foot tall steel fence post into the ground at the location at which you intend to plant your first vine. Drive another post into the ground 8 feet from the first, and continue until you have created a row that covers your entire planting area. These posts will provide the support for your grapevines.
Stretch 12-gauge stainless-steel wire across the support area at the 4 foot and 6 foot height marks of the fence posts. Be sure the wire is completely secured to each post, and anchor them to shorter (3 to 4 foot) end posts at each end of the row. The wire will hold the grapevines as they grow.
Plant your first vine just next to to your first fence post. Plant each vine 8 feet apart. Bury the vine only 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface so that it receives enough light and heat.
Water the soil so that it is thoroughly moist but not forming puddles. Mulch over the newly planted vines with 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch to help retain moisture and feed the vines.
Dig a 2 inch deep trench around your grapevine area to create a kind of moat. Fill this trench with water any time the soil within dries out. This will gradually irrigate your grapevines.
Trim each grapevine back the following year so that you retain only the two strongest shoots on each vine. This will prevent weaker shoots from using up nutrients and water.
Pinch back the weaker of the two shoots so that it does not grow much above the mulch. Tie the strongest shoot to the post loosely as it grows in order to encourage it to grow upward.
Trim back the longer shoot once it grows 18 inches above the 4-foot fire. Trim it back just below the bottom wire to encourage new shoots to grow out of this area. Tie the new side shoots to the 4-foot wire. These will produce your fruit. When these new shoots begin to grow, trim away the spare one at the bottom that is growing in the mulch.
Prune back each shoot to 4 feet long. In the spring, the shoots will produce new and healthy growth with flowers. Remove ¾ of the flowers after bloom so that they do not overwhelm the vines. The remaining flowers will produce large, sweet grapes.