Wine Tip #15: The Best Vines for Grape Growing

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir are the three classic red grape varieties. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling and Chardonnay are the three classic white grape varieties. If you are going to plant your own grapes you might want to consider one of these six varieties.

Each of the varieties has particular growing characteristics and if you pay attention to that you will find your efforts will be rewarded. Of the six varieties of grapes the Pinot Noir is the hardest to grow and make into wine. If you are a beginner I would recommend you leave this variety to the experts. Here is some of the information you can use to decide what variety you want to tackle.

Cabernet Sauvignon: This variety of red grape is known for high yields at harvest time. These grapevines grow fruit that is rich in sugar and ideal for winemaking. This vine is typically cane pruned. It is a tannic red wine that ages well. Plant the vines about 15 to 20 feet apart and they are ideal for planting zones 6-10 and is usually winter hardy. Ripens in late September or October.

Merlot: The Merlot grape is a bluish-black fruit and has a very high density and will yield an abundant crop at harvest time. The Merlot vine will yield good harvest much earlier than its Cabernet Sauvignon cousin. You should spur or canes prune this vine. Ripens in late September to early October. The merlot grape is a very vigorous vine. It is often blended with other reds. They are ideal for planting zones 6-10.

Pinot Noir: Has a bad rap as far as its ease to grow and make into a excellent wine. Not for beginners. The Pinot Noir grapevine is a key, principle grape of the Northern Burgundy region of France. They are ideal for region 6-10.

Sauvignon Blanc: These grapes have a high concentration of sugar that makes a great white wine. Produces well formed, small, compact clusters of oval to round greenish grapes. Very vigorous growing vine. Is used for white table wine or can be used for blending. You will have to cane prune this vine. They are among the most popular grapes for wine making. It is susceptible to powdery mildew and black rot. They are ideal for planting zones 6-10. Ripens in mid-August to early September.

Chardonnay: A small, round grape with green skin. You will need to do cane pruning with this variety of grapes. Fruit is used t make Chablis to Burgundy type, dry white wines. It is normally harvested in late September through early October. Grows in Zone 4 Ė 8.

Riesling: From the Rhine region of Germany. Used to make semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. The final wine is usually influenced by the wines place of origin. It is a aromatic grape which has a flowery aroma with high acidity. Late producing and it is susceptible to botrytis. It is grown around the world but typically in cooler regions and locations in zones 8-10.

You can search the internet for suppliers, however here are a few links that sell vines:

Aarons Farm
My Personal Vineyard


The hardiness zones referred to in above article are standardized throughout the United States. If you want to see the area that each zone comprises go to: Garden Zone Maps


Mike James is a fellow wine enthusiast, and enjoys helping others get started in this satisfying and tasty past time. If you havenít had a chance to check out the Total Wine System I urge you to do so now. Itís the most advanced (and easy to follow) wine growing and wine making system available today!

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