Backyard Viticulture (AKA Catching A Buzz Off The Land)

One day, while deciding what to plant for a long term perennial plants, and wrapping up on the latest batch of home brew, I thought it would be a great idea to start to grow some grapes for wine making. Our favorite wine type is Cabernet Sauvignon and, luckily for us, it appears to be one of the more forgiving varieties that are available in our region. When I was growing up, my neighbor had some growing on a trellis that was attached to their garage, and I used to love the sweet taste of the grapes regardless of their thick skins.

Since I was brewing while thinking about this, I decided to try to train hops to grow horizontally on the trellises as well. I planted two cascade rhizomes and two millennium rhizomes. These had to be planted in the early spring, so I planted them before I made the trellises.

After deciding that we wanted the grapes, I knew that I had to build a support system for them, and this is what I came up with:

First I started digging holes for the end poles that I picked up from our local hardware store,


Then I placed the pole in the hole and drove it in as far as I could using a T-post pounder, then filled it with dirt. Next I ran a string between the two poles to help draw a straight line so I could place the t-posts where I wanted them,


Then I went through and placed 6 ft tall t-posts every 6 ft along the distance between the two poles, and used the string to verify that the T-posts were the same height. I went thru and ran the wires for the trellises using 12.5 gauge high tension galvanized wire,




After I built the trellis system, I had to find a source of grapes which seemed harder than I originally imagined. After all we are in the heart of wine country aren’t we? Well, due to that last bit of info, it makes it harder to order grapes since there is the possibility of importing pests and diseases. The  FDA has some strict rules about shipping to states that have an agriculture output as to protect those crops. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to find a local source. After a lot of well crafted Google searches, I found a wine grape producer that was only an hour and a half away that would ship to me. They normally deal in bulk, so the smallest order I could place was 25 plants. Guess I better get serious about making some wine in a couple years, huh? With an average yield of 20-40 lbs per vine, there will be a decent amount of grapes to use, I’d even bet that our chickens will love the leftovers after we juice them.

I was excited to see this shoot break thru the ground, the first of the yummy Millennium hops which are used in my favorite beer… Stout.


A Cascade is coming thru the leafy mulch.


Now one month later it looks like this, crazy how fast these things grow


Stick around lady bug, there’s lots to eat around here!


Now its time to plant the grapes!



The baby grape plants were in great condition, packed with sawdust instead of shredded paper! Paper absorbs moisture and can actually harm your plants. I love it when I receive a plant that’s taken care of.


Had to get a hold of the master Gardner for some help, thanks Eli!


Two weeks after planting and we have some amazing growth already!


I layed a drip line going to each plant and have it set on a timer to water 2 times a day now since its starting to get hot out. We are looking forward to having some great grapes, and possibly the ability to make some awesome wine!

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