New Grape Vines for Christmas

Discussion in 'Grapes and Grape Vines' started by leapfrog, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Crescent Beach (South Surrey) BC Canada
    My mother-in-law bought me 2 young Pinot Noir vines for Christmas. I'm new to grape growing, and I've done some research in the Internet, but I have lots of questions.

    I live right by the ocean in Oak Bay, South Vancouver Island. The spot I have picked to plant the vines in the back garden gets full sun all summer from about 10:00 am on and is probably Zone 8b. It's on a 5 to 10 degree slope running downhill from east to west (slope line north/south), so it should get the full afternoon sun beating down at right angles into the slope. I haven't tested the soil yet, but I plan to, and then to add the appropriate clay/loam mixture sufficient to add about a foot of well mixed soil, which would allow for about 2 feet of soil above the bedrock.

    I have learned that Pinot Noir is a temperamental grape to grow, but the conditions here with the right soil, drainage and trellising should be close to ideal. I also understand the the Pinot Noir variety is prone to mutation and mine could be one of about 1,000 varieties. I have no idea which variety they are. They are labeled "Vitis 'Pinot Noir'" and come from "Touch of Nature", a Canadian nursery.

    When should I plant them? I was thinking early February, before the first buds develop.

    They seem to be 2 years old, as they are about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall with a well defined central trunk and three or four 1 foot vines from last year splaying out in various directions. Should I cut them back to the central trunk and train the new growth (2 of the 2007 growth vines), or should I tie the second year growth to trellis wires placed about 2 feet off the ground and train them from there?

    I read that a healthy Pinot Noir vine will eventually (in 2 to 3 more years in my case) produce about 3 lbs of grapes, and that it takes about that much to make a bottle of wine. So with only 2 vines I guess I'll never have enough to try to make wine. LOL. I'm hoping they're not bad for eating though.
     
  2. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    You can put them in the ground whenever the soil is ready. Prune around the end of February to ~3 buds on each of last year's shoots. Wire at 2' is fine, but also one at 4' to catch the upwards growing shoots. You could also consider a more substantial (larger) trellis style of support with only 2 plants.
    In a vineyard, 3 lb. (1-2 Kg) per plant is a reasonable expectation, but you should be able to get substantially more than that from 2 isolated plants, depending on other competition (including grasses)
    There are only about a dozen clones commonly available in Canada, but there is quite a variation even in these few. I don't know that they are any more mutation prone than other grapes, just more intensively watched and the application of some wishful thinking.
    They are absolutely delicious to eat when ripe.

    Check this site for pruning tips:
    http://mtvernon.wsu.edu/frt_hort/grape_pruning_basics.htm

    Ralph
     
  3. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    And watch out for the deer!!! They love the new shoots. Exclusion fencing is the only route until they are established unles you are in the city.

    Ralph
     
  4. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for all the good advice, Ralph. Thanks also for the link to the pruning site.

    I think I'll try the larger trellis as you suggest; perhaps three sets of wires in total at 2, 4 and 6 ft? Maybe with a little luck I'll be able to eventually get enough grapes to make a gallon or so of wine a year.

    Deer shouldn't be a problem. I'm in the city, and while there are a few living on a golf course north of here, there are none within a couple of miles. I also have the back garden well fenced, and a dog that loves to keep the space to herself.
     
  5. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Planting the Pinot Noir Vines

    Well with a lot of wet weather recently, it's taken me longer that I had expected to get started on planting the vines, which have been sitting in gallon pots on the deck since Christmas.

    I have a perfect climate for Pinot Noir. The site is in the full sun all day, and the trellis wire will run SSW to NNE. The sun shines directly from south to north along the wire at about 2:00 pm (standard time). I won't bore you with the details, but I calculated the grape growing degree days (GGDDs) for this site based on temperatures above 10C (50F) between April 1 and October 31 for every day over the past ten years (there is a weather station a mile from the site and I even adjusted the temperature for the difference in elevation). The GGDD for the site has averaged 1,749 over the past ten years. The equivalent for Reims, France is 1,756. Reims is in the Champagne district, famous for the bubbly of the same name, made from Pinot Noir grapes. At 49 degrees 25 minutes, it is exactly one degree (60 nautical miles) north of my site, so the sun angle will be the same too.

    My vines are labeled "dwarf form" and should grow to a height of 3 to 5 feet.

    I've spent the time researching options for the trellis, and have decided upon a variation on the Scott Henry Trellis. As I only have two vines, the trellis wires will only be about 12 feet long. I'll plant the vines six feet apart with 3 feet on either end. The end posts, which will be 12 feet apart, will be six and a half foot, 2-3 inch round treated wood fence posts, which I will stand vertically in a redi-mix cement footing (18 inches deep), leaving 5 foot vertical posts above the concrete base. I thought of angling the end posts away from the row and counterbalancing the tension on the trellis wire with a ground anchor, but my space is limited, and with a 12 foot row this would be over-kill.

    I'll staple the lower (first year) trellis wire (10 gauge) about 2 feet above the ground. I'll use a wire vise or a wire strainer to set the tension.

    I spent today preparing the soil by deepening the bed by about 6 inches. I added top soil mixed with sand and manure. I now have between 18 and 24 inches to the bedrock. I know that I should have more, but I don't think I can get it any deeper given the site I've picked.

    Here are some pictures of the site I've just prepared. I'll post some pictures of the construction of the Trellis in a week or two.
     

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  6. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Leapfrog, do you still have any labels etc. from your plants? I can't find a "Touch of Nature" nursery anywhere in Canada, either the BCLNA or the CNLA databases, and I like to keep track of grapevine sellers.
    Thanks, Ralph
     
  7. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes. Ralph, I still have the labels. I too couldn't find anything on "Touch of Nature" on the Internet, but it says "Product of Canada" on the label. There's also a label that says Garden Works. I checked with my Mother-in-Law (who purchased the plants). She bought them at the Oak Bay Garden Works, and they had them shipped over from their Saanich location on Blenkinsop Road:

    http://www.gardenworks.ca/app/public/stores.cfm
     
  8. leapfrog

    leapfrog Active Member 10 Years

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    Vines in the Ground Today and the Trellis Set Up

    I put the end posts in today, and planted the vines. The trellis wire will go up in a week or two.

    I used 3-4 inch fence posts for the end posts, and set them in the ground using a quick drying pre-mixed cement for the footings. They seem pretty sturdy. Here are some pictures.....
     

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