Feb 182013
 

There are a few contenders for the most popular variety of various fruits, but there is little competition about the most versatile. Grape vines provide us with fresh grapes, dried fruits, oils, juice and, best of all, wine!  But the most exciting thing about grapes is how easy they are to grow at your place.  For summer shade, winter sun and a bounty of fruit from February onwards, these deciduous perennial vines are a perfect planting in your patch.

Grape vines are fairly easy-going when it comes to soil types and seem to tolerate a range of sub-soils, from clay to more free-draining. Grapes grown in nutrient poor soils will need a bit of a supplementary feed, so look at compost and organic matter to give them a hand.  Grapes prefer a neutral to slightly acid soil, so if possible do a pH check before planting your grape vine.  Position them in a nice sunny spot with plenty of support in the form of a tough trellis or sturdy fence – grapes grow up to be big and strong, and are certainly capable of yanking down a dodgy dwelling or flimsy fence line!

The best time of year to plant them is when they are dormant, you will find a large variety of vines available and below is a list of table and wine grapes. Some even have the ability to be both!

Black Muscat:  Table or wine grape. Round, dark reddish skin with bloom, compact bunches, strongMuscat flavour. Vigorous and reliable vine. Spur or cane prune.

Late Summer: Red table grape, drying for raisins & redMuscat type wine. Suitable for growing over a pergola. Self-fertile.

Cabernet Sauvignon:  Cool region, wine grape.  Mid season.  Makes an excellent red wine of good colour, tannin and varietal character. Suitable for growing over a pergola. Self-fertile.

Cardinal: Popular table grape. Very sweet, large round red grapes. Bunches need thinning. Grapes may split with rain. Cane prune. Fruits very early in the season.  Suitable to grow over a pergola. Self-fertile.

Chardonnay:   Wine grape with green skin. Spur prune. Medium vigour. Early season. High quality wine with distinctive character. Self-fertile.

Italia: Table grape. Large, golden-skinned, seeded grapes with whiteMuscat flavour. Virus free. Reliable and heavy bearing. Tolerates wet conditions. Spur prune. Mid to late season maturity. May be grown over a pergola.

Pinot Noir:  Black wine grapes of relatively low vigour. Suits cool regions. Spur prune. Early season. Makes an excellent red wine of varietal character. Suitable to grow over a pergola. Self-fertile.

Rhine Riesling: Green-yellow, small wine grape of moderate vigour. Suits cool regions. Spur prune. Mid season. Produces an excellent white wine with varietal character. Suitable to grow over a pergola.  Self-fertile.

Sultana:  Popular table grape. Long bunches of medium-sized, oval, seedless, yellow-green to copper skinned, sweetly flavoured grapes. Needs warm, dry conditions. Cane prune. Mid season.  Can be dried as sultanas. Also used as a ‘filler’ in wines. Suitable to grow over a pergola. Self-fertile.

Waltham Cross:  Table grape. Loose, conical bunches of large, oval grapes. Yellow–green to golden skin.  Crisp flesh with very good flavour and single seed. Vigorous vine. Spur prune. Late summer to early autumn.  Can be dried as raisins. Suitable for growing over a pergola. Self-fertile.

White Muscatel: Popular table grape. Large yellow-green, seeded grapes. Firm, very sweet flesh and strong Muscat flavour. Not vigorous, but bears heavily. Requires warm climate. Spur or cane prune. Mid to late season. Can be dried as raisins or used to produce white Muscat wine.

Now, here’s the exciting news, grapes LOVE much of our country’s climate!  In order for them to be productive they require a cool winter, wet-ish spring and a long, dry summer which covers a great deal of this country.  Grapes are currently grown successfully and productively in many areas, including the Sunraysia and the Murray Valley in Victoria, the Riverina in New South Wales and Stanthorpe in South-eastern Queensland. Other commercial growing regions include Carnarvon, the Swan Valley and South West of Western Australia, central New South Wales, the Riverland in South Australia and even central Northern Territory.  If you live in an area that gets late frosts, you may want to consider covering your grapes’ new foliage to prevent them being bashed-about by the cold.

  25 Responses to “Grapes”

  1. Hello John,
    It is now May 2018 and in about mid April I had to go to Howard Qld. While I was there I pruned back our family Isabella (1830’s). I am a bit desperate to keep it going so I took some cuts with me back to Beaudesert and stuck them in water. I have prepped the pots with good soil, growth gel and potted them all. Not sure if its the right thing to do but while they were all in the water after about 2 weeks they threw new sprouts. I straight cut the bottoms below the node, took off old bark about 20-30mm, dipped them and potted them in Osmocote Fruit Citrus and gave them a good watering.
    Q1. At this time of season, how often should I water? &
    Q2. I straight cut the planted end and angle cut about an inch above the top node. Does the middle node go into the soil as well or stay about the soil?

    • You have done well. Grapes normally strike very readily from cuttings planted in winter with no extra treatment. As they are deciduous they won’t need much water through the winter – keep them just moist. Normally the top angle cut would be just above the bud with the angle sloping away from the bud but with the bottom of the cut no lower than the top of the bud. This reduces the risk of fungal problems such as die back. Rather than chemical fertilisers, such as that you have used, it is better to use a small amount of pelletised manure, blood & bone or old animal manure with mulch. These will feed the soil and give you better, healthier plants.

  2. Hi John………….I live in the Perth Hills and would like to know when is the best time to plant a vine cutting. I was given a “Flame Seedless” from my neighbour. The soil here is predominately clay.

    • Grapes strike very easily from cuttings taken when the vine is dormant i.e. in winter. Take pieces 20 – 30 cm long and make a hole in the ground with the edge of a spade or a stick and put them in for about half of their length. Firm the soil with your foot and wait for the spring for them to sprout. As with all cuttings keep the soil moist but not wet.

  3. Hi Team. I’m taking in the challenge of growing grapes for wine on the sunshine coast qld. Wet hot humid summers and dry yet cold winters which can get down to zero in our hilly area. Can you recommend which way to direct our wines, ie north east etc and if you know of any particular varieties that would go well in this climate. Thank you!

    • Your best course of action would be to look up local wineries and ask them. You will generally find them good to get advice from. The advice would also be relevant to your area.

  4. I live in Trentham Victoria. A cold, wet and frosty region in Winter. Is there a grape variety you would reconmend for eating and drying? not wine.
    Thanks

    • I know of Black Muscat (table grapes) growing and bearing very heavily in the Latrobe Valley east of Melbourne. Conditions are not quite as cold as Trentham but plants bear sweet, juicy fruit ripening in February/March. No doubt there are other varieties.

  5. Hi just wondering if you can give sone advice on where to buy grape vines I live in Hawkesbury nsw and am having no luck been looking for ages.
    Also any advice on growing from seeds

    • SGA does not recommend suppliers but if you searched online for grapes you would find a supplier. If you are closer to the coast with higher humidity look for American grape varieties such as ‘Concord’ and ‘Isabella’.

  6. How deep is the root

    • Grapes do not have a tap root, but their fibrous roots can penetrate quite deeply – up to 6 metres, depending on the soil. However, most of the root system is in the top 60 cm and may be quite spread out.

  7. Hi, I would like to grow grapes in CALOUNDRA West Qld. Is there a variety that will grow in this area?
    Cheers
    Brad

    • Most grapes originated from eastern Europe and the middle east and will not tolerate humidity. There are some American grape varieties that have been developed from Vitis labrusca that are coast tolerant. Look for ‘Isabella’ and ‘Concord”. Daley’s Nursery in Northern NSW often have them.

  8. Hello
    Do you sell advanced ie 2 metre length grapevines? (Hoping for a quicker start on a new pergola). Thanks.
    Stev

    • Sorry, Steve, we don’t sell anything. However, alonger cutting is not likely to make any difference. Grape vine cuttings root very readily and will grow fast if conditions are suitable. I planted one 2 years ago as a cutting and in its first year it grew about 8 metres one way along a frame and 4 metres the other way. Last year it had a lot of grape bunches on it and this year it was absolutely loaded.

    • Sorry, Steve, we don’t sell anything other than training classes. However, a longer cutting is not likely to make any difference. Grape vine cuttings root very readily and will grow fast if conditions are suitable. I planted one 2 years ago as a cutting and in its first year it grew about 8 metres one way along a frame and 4 metres the other way. Last year it had a lot of grape bunches on it and this year it was absolutely loaded.

    • Sorry, we don’t sell anything. A longer cutting is not likely to make any difference. Grape vine cuttings root very readily and will grow fast if conditions are suitable. I planted one 2 years ago as a cutting and in its first year it grew about 8 metres one way along a frame and 4 metres the other way. Last year it had a lot of grape bunches on it and this year it was absolutely loaded.

  9. Can you advise on grape variety that will give fruit and summer protection on Sunshine Coast .
    Thanks

    • Most grape varieties need long dry summers to avoid fungal attacks like mildew. The varieties of grapes available that do well in coastal areas are limited but American varieties like ‘Concord” and ‘Isabella’ are less susceptible to these problems and should do well in coastal areas. They are not readily available but Daley’s Nursery on the NSW North Coast lists them. A Google search might locate other suppliers.

      • I live on the Gold Coast and although my vines are in their third summer, this was the one I was expecting grapes on but ended up with brown spotting on leaves, leaves drying, fruit minimal and not making it to maturity. I’ve fertilised, used milk spray kept bugs away and my vines still hate me lol! I live on a canal, would it be the coastal air? Should I swap varieties to the ones mentioned above? (currently sultana and crimson) or should I cut vine back and nurture it to health and hope for better luck next year?

        • Coastal conditions with humidity is the scourge of grape growing. What you describe is fungal related and will be an ongoing challenge, American varieties of grapes like ‘Concord’ and ‘Isabella’ are far more resistant to these problems and may be a suitable alternative.

          • Can we grow grapes plant from seeds, and can I get few of them mix variety. I am in VIC.

            • Grapes can be grown from seed but there are a few downsides. The seed casing is very hard and they do not have a very high germination rate. Seedlings will take about three years to fruit. If it is a grape that you have eaten and enjoyed it would be better to get the name of it from the fruit shop or whoever gave it to you and buy a plant or some cuttings. Grapes strike very easily from cuttings planted in the winter.

  10. Garys article on Albany Suprise hit a note for me, my Dad always grew these we scoffed lots in season… there’s one about here (NW TAS) which is exactly as I remember it, perhaps it migrated from your Gary?

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