If you’re a wine enthusiast looking to venture into creating your own vintage, a relocation to Napa Valley isn’t necessary. Using some of the best wine grapes grown in a home garden will allow anyone to produce quality and delicious wine.
Growing grapes to create wine at home can seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s possible to create your garden and become an at-home wine connoisseur.
No matter where you live, there are a wide variety of grapes suitable for home growth and wine production. Finding the best wine grapes for your needs is easier than ever.
Before you start looking at grapes to grow at home, it’s best to learn about the needs and time commitment required to make your venture successful. Here are some of the most important details to know about growing the best wine grapes at home.
Important Details to Consider When Growing Wine Grapes at Home
When choosing the best wine grapes to grow in your personal garden, several factors need to inform your decision. The location and climate of your home will play a major role in what types of grapes will and won’t grow effectively. The type of wine you desire will also impact grape selection.
How you tend to your garden will influence the outcome of the grapes. The same techniques are used in Napa Valley on a much larger scale, and those practices can easily be adapted for personal use at home.
Location and Temperature
The best wine grapes for your region depend on the temperature and climate of the area. Not all locations can produce the same harvests. Most grapes typically grow best in the temperature range of 77 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below that range could inhibit the growth of vegetation, while higher temperatures could delay a plant’s ability to undergo photosynthesis.
But not all grape types require that temperature range. If you live in a cooler climate, many white grapes, such as riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, and others, can be successfully grown and harvested. Some red grapes and black grapes also thrive in cooler environments, so no matter where you live, there should be options to create your wine of choice.
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Rainfall can also play a role in a grape vine’s ability to grow and produce fruit. Areas that receive less than 20 inches of annual rainfall will need irrigation to properly hydrate the plants, but regions that exceed 32 inches per year can inhibit the ability to yield grapes.
Red or White Wine
White wines and red wines obviously require different varieties of grapes, so your desired final product will determine what types of grapes you grow in your home garden. Growing a red grape or black grape will usually produce red wine while a green or yellow grape will typically yield a white wine.
Within red and white wine groups, there are a variety of distinguishing characteristics that make every wine unique. Picking a grape variety based on its sugar levels, acidity, and ripeness, etc., will determine the type of wine produced.
Different varieties of red and white grapes will result in different wines. For example, a pinot noir grape will lead the wine bearing the same name, as will cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and cab franc grapes. If you’re unsure about what type of wine you want to produce, try sampling several varieties to find your favorite characteristics.
Maintenance and Patience
Choosing the type of grapes you wish to grow and the variety of wine you want to produce is half the battle. After that, a garden needs your commitment to yield the quality and quantity of grapes to create wine at home.
Pruning your grapevine ranks as one of the biggest tasks for ensuring a consistent and strong crop every year since it will allow you to control the growth and form of the plant. Pruning should be done after leaves fall off in the autumn, and before the plant begins to bud again in the spring.
Without pruning, the excessive growth of the plant can cause it to produce diminished fruit. Training the plant will help determine the form and direction of future growth.
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On top of the regular maintenance needed to grow your crop, you’ll need a good amount of patience to go through the process and see the final results. It takes a while to start seeing grapes on vines — you may need to wait a few years before the vines start consistently producing.
It can take up to three years for a vine to produce fruit, though consistent pruning and training play a large role in how quickly grapes can begin to grow.
Best Wine Grapes to Grow at Home
Now that you know some of the factors that go into growing wine grapes at home, it’s time to choose the best wine grapes tailored for your needs.
Here are ten grape varieties — five ideal for white wines and five for red wines — that can best suit your needs to create your own delightful drink. Many of these grapes are used to produce wines in Italy, France, Napa Valley, and around the world.
Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, this green grape typically produces a dry white wine, though it can be rendered to have a sweet taste. The grapes ripen early, so it flourishes in cooler temperatures. Hotter climates can cause sauvignon blanc grapes to over-ripen.
Riesling grapes are another variety that produce white wine, and they are still a popular crop in Germany, where they originated. Colder regions could lead to under-ripe grapes, but they can still grow in cool and warm climates. The wines produced from riesling grapes tend to have a higher level of acidity and fruity notes.
Pinot Gris Grapes
While pinot gris grapes are rose or purple in color, they produce a white wine that can have varying characteristics based on where the crop is grown. These grapes are suitable for cool climates, and they mature early. They also produce wine that is suitable for consumption just 4 to 12 weeks after fermentation.
Another product from France, this time from the Burgundy region, chardonnay grapes are common in vineyards across the world. This grape is ideal for cool climates, where it can produce a crisp taste with a high level of acidity. Grown in medium climates, the grapes bring out a fruiter taste.
Chenin Blanc Grapes
These white grapes, originating from the Loire Valley region of France, bud early in the season, but they have a late-maturing age and need to be harvested later in the year.
Picking chenin blanc grapes too early can lead to an overly acidic wine. But when harvested at the right time, these grapes can have a neutral taste and sweetness that make them versatile for a variety of wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes
Stemming from their parent grape, cabernet franc, cab sauv grapes are another variety of black grape that are wildly popular in vineyards across the world. The plants bud late, making them more resistant to frost, and they’re capable of growing in a variety of climates. These grapes typically produce a darker, denser wine.
These black grapes are similar in growth patterns to cabernet sauvignon grapes, but subtle differences make for a very different product when producing wine. They tend to bud and ripen earlier, and merlot grapes can also be susceptible to over-ripening quickly. Their higher levels of sugar and lower levels of acid make for a sweeter wine.
Pinot Noir Grapes
These black grapes are typically associated with red wines. They can also be used to produce champagne and sparkling white wines. They tend to grow best in cooler climates, but they’ve nonetheless become one of the most popular grapes from wine producers around the globe. Young wines made from pinot noir grapes usually have aromas of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, though more aged wines have a more earthy complexion.
Another purple and black variety, malbec grapes tend to do better in cooler climates. Two areas where they are grown today are Argentina and Washington state. Growing these grapes in warmer climates could lead to wine that has much lower acidity than other products. Produced in the proper climate, these grapes produce a heavy, distinct wine which is why the grapes are often blended with other varieties.
Zinfandel grapes are ideal for warm climates, but too much heat could cause the fruit to wither and dry. The grapes typically ripen early, helping them avoid some of the extreme heat of the summer, and they also have a high sugar content. However, bunches of these grapes tend to ripen at different rates which makes it trickier to get a consistent final product.
So, there you have it! Growing your own grapes isn’t as impossible as it may seem. You don’t have to be an expert from Napa Valley to produce your own delicious wine brand.
If you’re feeling adventuresome and don’t have space for a wine vineyard, you can always start out small with easily gathered ingredients such as dandelions or blackberries to test your skills at making wine right at home.