A visit to some “local” vineyards in the Niagara region inspired me. What a fun project it would be to grow my own grapes in the backyard and one day produce my own wine from what I’ve grown. How realistic would it be to make this happen? Would it be worth the effort to make your own backyard vineyard?
Where to Get the Vines?
A visit to some “local” vineyards in the Niagara region inspired me. What a fun project it would be to grow my own grapes in the backyard and one day produce my own wine from what I’ve grown. How realistic would it be to make this happen? Would it be worth the effort?
You could ask a local vineyard for a splice of one of their plants, but chances are the response will be guarded at best. And I don’t recommend steeling plants from local vineyards as jail time will put a damper on the whole experience (LOL). Good news, there is a proper and legal source for vines of all types. One company that supplies vines as singles or by bulk is VineTech Canada (vinetechcanada.com).
Will it Grow in My Backyard?
Before starting large vineyards step one is always soil testing. There are many things in Ontario soil that can make or break your vineyard. A neutral pH, around 7 is ideal for grapes, but if you have already had success with other fruits and vegetables than chances are the soil will work. If your super serious then test the soil, but there are costs associated with it. A simpler approach could be to hope for the best and just go for it.
The second most critical condition for your backyard vineyard is weather. Ideally 150 to 200 frost free days are needed to produce most grapes. Find out what your neighbors are growing this is often a good indicator of what is possible where you live. For example, Lake Erie and Ontario regions produce Chardonnays and Rieslings with lots of success.
There are also many other challenges to a successful backyard vineyard like pests, trellising and water quality. The more you research the better chances you will be successful. But in general, and at the hobby level, it really is like growing any other plant. Like in all gardening, constant attention and regular maintenance i.e. watering, weeding, is the key to success.
How Many Grapes Do I Need?
As a general rule, 9 Kilograms of fresh fruit will make 4 liters of wine. So, for a batch of wine or to have enough juice for a standard fermenter bottle you will need 55.35 kilograms of fruit (mashed up into juice). That means you will need approximately 24 vines (producing approx. 2.26kg of grapes each) for one batch (30 x 750ml bottles) of wine.
Is it Worth the Effort?
Is it worth all the effort? That’s for you to decide. If not, remember that juices are always’ s available at The Wine Cellar. In fact, there are hundreds of kits available from all over the world. When you compare the cost of growing 24 vines to that of just buying a 10-18 liter kit, it makes buying the juices much more appealing, not to mention the time it takes to babysit the vines for a growing season.
The other thing to consider is your chances of success. Anything of a thousand things can go wrong when growing your own backyard grapes. At the Wine Cellar your wine is guaranteed to be successful. The Juices from the wine kits are of the highest quality and the whole process is monitored by an award-winning brew master.
This spring I plan on going ahead with my backyard vineyard despite all the hard work and constant attention needed. I just love the idea and the adventure of it all. I let you all know how it goes this fall and in the meantime share some of the fun along the way.