Grow Your Own Grape Vines

A friend of mine visited the horticultural building at the State Fair a few years ago and struck up a conversation about growing grapes. After discussing site selection, varieties, soil conditions, trellis construction, pruning and trimming, the woman leaned over the counter and said: “Just stick them in the ground. They’re weeds. They’ll grow.”

A perfect message, it turns out. The vines will grow easily and will produce grapes, yes, without much effort or knowledge. With a little info and preparation, however, the homeowner can achieve ‘commercial production’, maximizing outputs on limited space.

To give some scope: “commercial production” = 60 clusters/vine growing across an 8-ft span = 1 ½ gallons of grape juice = 1 gallon of wine.

What you need is a bit of land you intend to stay connected with for a few years, the ability to sustain delayed gratification, a few concepts and even fewer tools.

If you plant vines this spring, you can look forward to the above harvest (are you sitting down?) in the late summer of 2018. Until then, you’ll need to train, prune and trim so the plant invests its energy growing the most productive structure. This is not difficult nor does it take a lot of time. You just need to know what to do, and when.

Enter Steve Unverzagt of Precision Viticulture. He serves on the Board of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association and is passionate about empowering people to grow great vines. He’ll be offering a series of presentations at Valley Natural Foods covering everything a person needs to establish healthy, productive grape vines. The first meeting will happen April 5th at 1:00pm at Valley.

The Valley Natural Foods Garden Center will be selling three varieties of grapes: Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, and La Crescent. You can find lots of information at about these varieties and how to best grow them. Better yet, meet Steve at Valley for his how-to classes; click here for the class schedule.

The Garden Center will open in the beginning of May. Come see the new, quality products we’ll be offering in the Garden Center at a special preview at Community Food Day, April 5th at the YMCA. Click here for event details.

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