Soil Management for Growing Grapes and Choosing a Variety for Growing Grapes

When it comes to growing grape vines and maintaining healthy vineyards most people agree that grapes just aren’t as fussy about their soil as some are fruit species are. Grape vines tolerate a large range of soil conditions and soil chemistry. That doesn’t mean that grapes don’t grow better in certain kinds of soil, though. Even though they will grow just about anywhere, grapes will not thrive in particularly boggy, swampy, or waterlogged environments, extremely acidic, or completely alkaline soil, or those that are barren, or void of nutrients.

Soil Types For Growing Grapes

Those experienced with farming grapes recommend a sandy loam as the best soil for growing grapes. The characteristics of sandy loam cater to a grape vine’s needs more than other soil types. The most important factors are that it drains fast, but retains some moisture and has an appropriate amount of nutrients and organic matter. Sandy loam in most cases, also easily maintains the ph range that grapes prefer.

In some cases, grapes are also capable of thriving in silty loam. However, in many instances, these silty soil types will need a moisture-balancing amendment to support the growth of healthy grapevines. Silty soils tend to hold a lot of water, like clay, and can easily become too waterlogged to support grapes if left as is.

Check your soil before you plant

The first thing you should do, before planting is to test your soil. Testing your soil can tell you the general pH level, amount of organic material, its physical characteristics and its chemistry. By knowing all of this you will have all of the knowledge you need to ensure your soil is perfect for optimal grape growth.

If it needs amended, you will know exactly what you need to add to perfect it. For example, grapes need a pH level of 5.5 – 7.0 in in order to thrive. Lime can be used to increase the pH of your soil and sulphur can be used to reduce the pH. Many commercial soil testing kits are available and some are more thorough than others. Be sure to choose one that includes pH level and organic material testing at the minimum.

Test Soil Drainage

Grapes don’t like to sit in soggy soil and are prone to root and vine rot in conditions that are too wet. However, they also need a lot of water, grape vines and the grape itself is comprised mostly of water. Due to this, you will need a well draining soil, that can also retain some moisture. Well-drained soil is defined as soil that leaches all standing water within 24 hours.

To test the drainage of your soil, dig a 12×12 inch hole that is 12 – 18 inches deep in your planting area. Fill this hole with water and allow the ground to absorb it for 30 – 60 minutes. Once the hole is empty, or the time is up refill it again and leave it for 24 hours. If the hole has completely drained after 24 hours your soil drains well enough to support healthy grape vine growth.

If the hole has not drained completely in 24 hours, your soil does not drain well enough for grapes. If the hole has completely drained within only a few hours of being filled the second time, your soil is likely too dry to support grape vines. In either of these cases, the soil will need amended with the proper moisture balancing material to correct the problem.

Amending or improving your soil

Most soil types are capable of being amended fairly easily by adding organic matter. Boggy, waterlogged soil types, or especially hard soil types like silt and heavy clay can be amended by adding vegetable composts, manure, pine bark, chopped hardwood, and ph gravel. These materials work to aerate and break up the soil density, allowing it to drain better and prevent it from clumping and compacting. Never use sand to amend boggy, clay, or silt based soils. Sand will contribute to the soil density and make the soil harder, more compact, and more prone to flooding.

It is very important to know about your soil condition for organic farming. Soil types composed mostly of sand often benefit from organic compost, peat moss, and humus. These materials will make the soil denser and allow it to retain adequate amounts of water, while also providing a sturdier anchor for root growth and helping to prevent excessive erosion.

Different Varieties of Grapes That You can Grow

One of the factors that determine the origin, quality, and taste of wines is the grape from which it is made. Viticulture is a branch of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of grapes for winemaking. Winemakers consider most importantly the aspect of viticulture in their production process by choosing the varieties that will thrive will in their growing region. Grapes for wine production have two main types: red and white. The most familiar red grape varieties are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Tempranillo while the most familiar white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer.

Let’s take a look at some of these important types.

Red Grape Types

Cabernet Franc 

Cabernet Franc is a red sort regularly found in Bordeaux, France. Cabernet Franc is a significant kind utilized in formulating mixes of a few wines found in different regions of the world. Well-known wines that were sourced from this grape are the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It might have a peppery taste with tobacco, raspberry or coffee dependent on the district where it is made from. The 100% Cabernet Franc varietal wine produced using this grape can be found in couple of areas of the world. The most ancient is the Loire Valley in France, and as of late in the Washington, California and Carolina conditions of the United States. 

Cabernet Sauvignon 

Cabernet Sauvignon grape originally started from Bordeaux, France. It is a blended kind from two parental hybrids of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Since it was first made known over numerous hundreds of years back, it has been embraced in several regions of the world. Wines produced using this grape have been found with exceptional taste and fragrance. The development of this grape has stretched out from Europe to other winemaking areas around the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is presently a significant sort developed and utilized as a mix in California, the state creating over 90% of U.S. wines. 


Merlot known for its intense and rich fruity red color is one of the significant red grape types with its source originating from the Bordeaux in France. The taste is like Cabernet with the fragrances of blackberry, cassis berries, chocolate, and coffee. Merlot is like Cabernet yet with less tannin content that gives it the fine flavor and taste. Merlot grapes are developed as a noteworthy sort in Chile, Italy, and the United States. 


Syrah grape is a red sort that took its starting point from the Rhône wine district in Northern France. The grape has been embraced as the primary sort for winemakers in nations like Australia and South Africa. Hermitage and Cote Rotie vintage wines produced using Syrah grapes energized a few people from Australia on a visit to France to discover progressively about the grape. They took the Syrah grape along to Australia where it is locally called Shiraz. The wines produced using Syrah are well known in light of the fact that they come in various styles. Ideal and delightful wines with ready plums and blackberry natural products express the diverse qualities of the locale they originate from, for example, flavors and pepper from cold atmospheres, for example, the Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills of Australia.

Pinot Noir 

The Pinot Noir grape type is indigenous to the Burgundy region in France, which offers probably best quality red wines to date. A few nations have imported Pinot Noir into its wine-production industry. This has made the grape gain its popularity after some time with top quality wines from California, Oregon, New Zealand, and numerous other new wine developing regions. 


With many of the red grape types beginning from France, Tempranillo is a red grape that took its origin from Spain and used to create delectable Spanish red wines. Regardless of its origin from Spain, it has been developed by viticulturists in America, Australia, and South Africa. Tempranillo grows earlier than other grape types which improve its flavor, taste, and quality. Wines produced using Tempranillo has a decent flavor, for example, plum, tobacco, cedar, and vanilla. Tempranillo is developed in all wine regions of Spain, yet particularly in the cooler districts of the northern La Rioja and Valdepenas. The Spanish Conquistadors took the grape seeds to different parts of Europe and America without any differences in the flavor and taste as those developed in Spain. 

White Grape Types 

Sauvignon Blanc 

Sauvignon Blanc is a white sort from the Bordeaux, France. Sauvignon Blanc is coined from two French words “Sauvage” (wild) and “blanc” (white). Sauvignon blanc is planted in many wine-developing areas of the world and is known for its crisp, dry and reviving flavor. Wines produced using Sauvignon offers a wide scope of flavors from home grown to citrus and tropical shades which express the distinctive attributes of the locale from which they are made. Sauvignon blanc is a principal white sort that can be found in numerous locales of Europe, America, and Australia. 


Chardonnay is another significant white grape utilized in the creation of a few mixes of white wine and is found nearly in all areas of the world. The grape started from Burgundy, France. The wines produced using Chardonnay grape has diverse taste and flavor dependent on the region from which they are made. Chardonnay is a various grape type that has been made known to a few different nations outside France, for example, England, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. 


Gewürztraminer is a white grape and it isn’t as common compared with Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. Its cultivation began as a mutant cross from the trainer also called Sauvignon blanc in northern Italy. Traminer is an old grape from Tramin a der Weinstraße, a German-speaking part of Italy. Gewürztraminer has distinctive characteristics and easy to recognize from its floral to fruity aroma for many wine connoisseurs. It has an exceptional fragrance of flower petal, gardenia, honeysuckle, lychee, grapefruit, peach, and mango. Gewürztraminer albeit is grown basically in Alsace, France but it has been made known to different nations like New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Wines made with Gewürztraminer grape offers loads of tasty flavors and health benefits.

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