Heard it Through the Grapevine: Wine, Jelly, and More

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to grow your own grapes? Make delicious jelly? Healthy grape juice? FREE wine? The answer is YES!

We ordered bare-root seedless Concord grapes and planted as soon as the ground would allow. Here in TN, that was January. We soaked them for a few hours, measured out a straight-ish line, and placed them 6-8 feet apart. That’s them soaking in the green cooler filled with muddy water. I ran out of buckets.

Over the summer, the vines began to climb. There were a few little grapes on them the first year, but don’t expect a good harvest until year three. Truthfully, one-year and two-year plants can’t even handle the weight of grape clusters.

1st lesson in grapes: they need to be up off the ground. Here’s the easiest way to do that. Place your grape plants in a straight line, 6-8 feet apart, with 9-gauge wire over their heads at 3 feet and 5 feet heights. Connect the wires on the ends to posts with holes drilled at 3 feet and 5 feet. The EASIEST way to connect the wire to the post is with One Way Anchor Vises (check Amazon). The wire goes right in and never comes back out. The pointed end of the vise sits nicely inside the hole you drilled. You can also periodically and gently tighten your wires as plants put weight on them.

2nd lesson in grapes: train the plants to the wires. We began by gently wrapping a 6-inch-wide strip of bird netting from the small plant up to the wire and let them climb. Once they reached the wire, we cut away the netting and zip-tied them to the wire.

3rd lesson in grapes: Grapes do not grow on this year’s vine growth. After you start getting grapes in about year three, once the leaves have fallen off for the winter, you need to prune the old three-year growth away. You must do this every year. If you don’t, you will get tons of small bunches of grapes that never really mature.

4th lesson in grapes: Learn how to make grape jelly. Let’s do some jelly math. I planted seven plants. Each plant will easily produce about twenty 1/2-pound bunches or about ten pounds of grapes. Five pounds of grapes, or 1/2 a plant, will produce twelve jars of grape jelly. Yeah. 14 batches x 12 jars per batch = 168 jars of jelly. Wha?! Maybe you should learn to make grape juice and wine, also.

Who doesn’t want FREE wine?

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