You may think that you can’t grow wine grapes in your garden. After all, don’t you need plenty of sun and heat?
It’s true that some of the more traditional varieties would struggle in temperate climates. But grapes have come a long way since they were first cultivated back in 6500 B.C. Today, you’ll find over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes alone. Pick one that perfectly matches your growing conditions and you could soon be sipping on some homemade wine.
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How to Grow Grapes from Seed
Although it’s technically possible to grow wine grapes from seed, this isn’t commonly done. Grapes grown from seed aren’t true to type. This means that they probably won’t turn out to be the same variety as the parent plant that produced those seeds. Since wine grapes contain specific acidity, sugar, and juice levels, grapes grown from seed may not offer the same. This means that they won’t produce a tasty wine.
How to Grow Grapes from Cuttings
Cuttings are the most common way to propagate grapevines. These should be taken in late winter from mature growth. Look for 30cm-long canes that have hardened off at the end, without any green showing.
How to Plant Grapes Outside
Grapevines are best planted out when they’re still dormant, meaning early in the spring. Even if you live in a cold region, you can still grow your grapes outside. It’s all about picking a suitable variety.
How to Plant Grapes in a Greenhouse
Although your grapevines will likely do just fine outside, growing them in a greenhouse has a couple of distinct advantages. Firstly, it will give you access to a greater choice of varieties, since they’ll have a better growing environment. This also means that yields tend to be higher and the fruit is usually of a better quality.
How to Care for Wine Grapes
In order to produce good yields, your wine grapes will need regular care throughout the growing season. This means watering, feeding, weeding, training, pollinating and pruning.
How to Harvest Wine Grapes
Wine grapes stop ripening once they’ve been picked. You need to make sure that they’re at the perfect stage of ripeness before harvesting them. They may change colour before this, making it important to sample a few grapes before harvesting the rest. A ripe grape will have a good flavour balance of sweet and tart. They’ll also be plump, juicy, and easily crushed.
How to Store Wine Grapes
If you plan on making wine, then it’s best to do this with grapes that are as fresh as possible.
However, wine grapes do still store well – they can be kept in a fridge for a couple of weeks. Since grapes easily absorb smells, keep them well away from any other fruits and vegetables.
How to Prepare & Cook Wine Grapes
Chances are, if you’re growing wine grapes, then you’re hoping to make some homemade wine. 1kg of grapes usually amounts to 1 litre of liquid, so weighing your harvest will give you a good idea of how much wine you can make.
The winemaking process isn’t simple and will require some in-depth research. However, the basic steps are as follows:
- Crush and press your grapes
- Check sugar and acidity levels
- Add in a wine yeast and leave to ferment
- Strain the liquid and then continue fermenting
- Siphon your wine into a clean bucket and leave to clear
The fermentation process usually takes about 2-6 weeks. It varies based on the sugar content of your grapes, as well as the temperature that you’re fermenting at. Once fermented, your wine will need to be left to mature for a few months.
So, why not have a go at planting wine grapes at home? Wine grapes require more work than most fruits, but the satisfaction that you’ll experience will make the effort worthwhile.
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