Thursday, April 14, 2011

Growing Grapes

I've been meaning for some time to do a post about my grapes. This is the second year since I planted my vine which is called Albany Surprise – a red variety. The season is over now but I have carefully observed the grapes throughout the season so I could report on how it did. 

As with all my fruit trees, from the moment the first buds start sprouting there's a keen sense of anticipation about the fruit it will yield. 

Last year I was advised by a commercial grape grower to pinch out all the fruit so that the roots would have a chance to get really well established. This I reluctantly did, but I wasn't too happy to hear them recommend I pinch out at least half the fruit this year. I was hoping for a bumper crop but as I've learned, patience is a much needed virtue when it comes to growing any type of fruit — so I complied with their instructions...

...but not before I at least got to see how much the vine could grow.

Watching the tiny bunches unfurl seemed almost miraculous — it's the first time I've ever observed it so closely. Everything seemed so perfectly formed.

Shortly after this it started flowering, which is when the bees arrived to do their thing. Of course grapes need pollenating like every other fruit in the garden.

Meanwhile, I was keeping an eye on how the vine was growing as a whole as I wanted it to grow over the pergola I built last year. I strung some wire between the uprights then tied the vine to the wire.

Then the fruit started growing although rather unevenly. It looked like I was going to get some weird shaped bunches.

But before long the bunches started forming nicely...

...then ripened up to a nice dark red colour.

It wasn't a huge crop because I had to cut half of the fruit off, but I'm sure it will pay off later as the vine gets established. Some of the fruit was a bit sour and the bunches didn't ripen up evenly so I found myself picking at grapes off the vine rather than picking whole bunches of ripened grapes. 

But it didn't matter, I was happy enough with seeing and tasting the first fruits this year. 
Now I'm looking forward to seeing how it does next year.


Picture taken December 2012...

The grape season (2012-13) seemed promising to begin with. Unfortunately most of my fruit shrivelled up on the vine. I thought grapes liked long hot summers. I understand grape growers throughout NZ had a good season. We had a drought this year. Perhaps I should have watered them more...


  1. Wow!!! Well done Dave. Mine took 3 years to produce, then I only got 3 tiny bunches of very small grapes. Maybe you have a better climate for them than we do.

  2. Dave: this post calls to mind a local brother, since deceased, with a typical city sized lot whose backyard was totally devoted to tomatoes, and patio (on pleasant evenings we held the book study there) roofed by a large grape trellis. The aroma was delicious. And his tomatoes were truly monstrous sized. Nobody knew how he did it, but it was his recreation. Upon arriving home after workday, it was out for an hour or two in the back yard.

    No green thumb here, but fortunately, my daughter who lives upstairs, has started growing one out back. Hopefully, she won't let her mother and I starve when food prices go into the stratosphere, should that happen. Time will tell if we raised her right or not.

  3. Hi Tony. One interesting thing I didn't mention was that I started another vine a year earlier in a different spot. It was the same variety but the soil and aspect were very different and it hasn't done well at all compared to this one. It's still there but I'm thinking of pulling it out.
    They obviously need the right combination of soil, light and attention to do well.

  4. Hi Tom, Thanks for visiting my blog. You must tell me how you raised your daughter to take an interest in gardening. My daughter (21) is happy enough to EAT what comes from the garden but any mention of worms and snails and, oh yes DIRT, then she's outa there.

    What's wrong with this younger generation?