When I moved into my present location the front yard was a massive jungle of weeds and "garden" unfortunately not my idea of a garden. I proceeded to have the entire yard stripped of every living thing with the exception of a very old grape vine (still do not know the variety?).
The grape eventually got a new arbor to ramble over and seems to be fairly happy, producing an abundance of sweet green seedless fruit which I look forward to harvesting from September into October unless the wildlife (or neighbors) get to them first!
Grapes are wonderful plants to grow as they can offer several benefits: shade under an arbor or structure, screening when planted on a vertical structure/surface and of course edible fruit or if you are so inclined wine production.
Before you run out to buy your grape vine first determine what you are growing it for; table grapes which are for eating fresh do not make good wine as they are not high enough in sugar content and have too low acidity to balance the wine, while wine grapes tend to be small berried and seedy, one vine will not fit the bill for both.
Also keep in mind that grapes will require some form of structure to grow on and once established most varieties grow rather quickly and will require a yearly regime of extensive pruning to maintain their size and promote optimal health and fruit production.
Correct pruning also maximizes exposure to sun which allows the grapes to ripen, too much rampant/uncontrolled growth leads to shading of the vine and can allow disease and insects to take hold. Each variety will require specific maintenance depending upon their individual growth habits and requirements.
I will not get into the "art" of pruning grapes at this time as it is a whole article on it's own. Check with our horticulturists at Art's Nursery or do some online research as to how to maintain your particular variety.
Grapes should be grown in full sun in a well-drained sandy loam, they will tolerate heavier clay-type soils but this will delay the maturity of crops and vines. Most grapes are self-fertile so do not require other varieties to cross pollinate, this makes them more versatile for the home gardener as you can have but one plant which saves on space.
The varieties listed below are all perfectly winter hardy for the lower mainland and some even like our cooler growing conditions *. Pruning should be done during the winter months when the vines are dormant.
Green seedless grape produced in a large loose cluster. Berries are sweet and juicy, good for eating fresh and for making into raisins; early season.
'Sovereign Coronation' *
Developed at Summerland Research Station, this midseason eating grape produces virtually seedless, blue-purple fruit with a sweet musky flavor. Makes great preserves.
Blush-red, firm fruit with a sweet, tangy flavor. Excellent quality grape for eating fresh, making juice, jam and jelly. Keeps well under refrigeration. Early season.
French-American hybrid used in making good quality red wines that are balanced and fruity with low tannin levels. Vigorous habit with good disease resistance.
'Maréchal Foch' *
Hardy French hybrid with medium to large, loose clusters of small blue-black berries; midseason. Reliably produces excellent red wines with high acidity and minimal tannin levels. Vines have good vigor and are disease resistant.
'White Riesling' *
Green skinned grape from the Germany used to produce good quality aromatic wines. Grapes have high acidity and sugar content and are used in making semi-sweet, sweet, sparkling white and ice wine.
Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea'
PURPLELEAF GRAPE – Deciduous woody climber with attractive purple-red new growth that fades to bronze-green by summer; turns a stunning fiery red in fall. A late season grape that produces small clusters of blue-black fruit that has sweet flesh with a bitter skin; good for preserves. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Prune during winter while vines are dormant. Height: 3-5m Zone: 5
* Photography courtesy of HarkAway Botanicals
These and other grape varieties are commonly available at Art's Nursery
. As always please call ahead to confirm exact availability as our selection is always changing.