Growing Wine Grapes At Home
Posted Jul 23rd 2013 | By:
In the last few years the local/homemade movement in the United States has exploded. More and more consumers wish to feel connected to the products they use, and what better way to do that than to make it yourself? This has contributed to the growing popularity of home winemaking, and for anyone who has enough space for a real garden, growing wine grapes is the next logical step.
Where to plant
In order to grow high quality wine grapes, it will have to be the right sort of space. They should be grown on a slope in order to prevent the water from pooling around their roots. This can either drown the plant or just prevent it from producing grapes at all.
The alcohol in wine begins its life in the grapes as sugar, and that sugar is a product of photosynthesis, so the more sunlight they get, the more potent the final product will be. For this reason it is usually best to plant on a slope that faces southeast or southwest. This will allow the leaves of your vines to soak up as much sun as possible. Wine grapes won't benefit from frost, so plant them toward the top of the slope where it is less likely to hit them.
The ideal soil
In general, smaller grapes are preferred for winemaking, since the color and flavor lay primarily in this skins. The larger the grapes, the more juicy flesh; the more flesh, the less flavor. In order to encourage your vines to grow small grapes, they should be planted in dry, poor soil. The lack of nutrients will limit their growth and help them produce excellent wine grapes.
Choosing the right grapes
The grapes you grow should depend on both the wines you enjoy drinking and the region you'll be growing in. White wines are slightly more difficult to make than reds, and beginning wine makers should probably stick with concentrates during the learning process, but once you've decided to devote a growing season to this experiment, why shy away from a challenge?
There are a ton of different grape varieties that can be grown for wine, but they all basically fall into two categories: native American grapes or the traditional European vitis vinifera. The vinifera grapes have been carefully cultivated in Europe for centuries, and they're best suited to the more mild climates of the Mediterranean than most regions of the US, but many wineries have found success with crosses between the two.
If you're unsure about what types of grapes will be best suited to your area, do a little research into the vineyards around you to see where they have had the most success. Here in Idaho where I live, we have great success growing Rieslings, but your local climate and geology will determine the best options for you.
Kayla Stevens is a wine lover and enthusiastic, amateur home wine maker. She has recently decided to embark on an experimental vineyard on her parents' land, since her apartment complex has not been kind enough to offer her the space she needs. She currently writes for Midwest Supplies, which is where she gets the wine making equipment she needs to keep up her favorite hobby.
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