How to Grow Grapes Outdoors
Two problems facing us in the 21st Century here in Ireland could be a thing of the past.
The price of a bottle of wine is not getting any cheaper and many of us can only dream of a holiday to the vineyards of southern France. Both of these thoughts could be a distant memory as Irish Gardeners are taking on the challenge of growing grapes right here in Ireland.
Grapes are synonymous with the warm Mediterranean climate, and so it may seem as stretch to imagine us being able to grow grapes for wine production here in Ireland. But there are varieties of grape that are suited to our milder weather and can be grown outdoors. If you want to grow your own grapes in Ireland here are some requirements that you would need to meet.
Choosing the Grape
Not all grapes will grow here. So choose a variety suited to our mild climate and cold Winters. See below for list of grape varieties.
Parts of Ireland
Those lucky enough to live in the Sunny South East of Ireland have the best opportunity to grow grapes outside while the midlands and north west should confine all their grapes to a suitable polytunnel.
Location in Garden
This is essential to get right: Grow your grapes along a south facing wall or support. The grapes must be kept sheltered from cold winds and must receive the maximum amount of sunlight to achieve a fully ripe harvest in September / October.
Their roots especially need to be kept warm. Their roots grow deep but you should keep the plants well mulched over to protect from frost. Also watch out for late frosts in Spring as these can damage flower buds and prevent fruiting in Autumn. Cover vines with frost fleece if a late frost is forecast.
Supporting & Training
Grape wines are fast growers and spread 9ft in a single year. If going up a wall or support you will need to train the branches.
Train so that one single branch grows vertically up the wall, this is known as a ‘Cordon’. Train lateral shoots along a wire support so that they fan out horizontally. Ensure that to support is well secured to the wall and strong enough to support the branches.
Grapes grow from the current season's growth, producing 2 or 3 bunches of grapes per shoot. Once the vine has established you can prune back shoots hard in Winter. When pruning; cut back to the buds of the lateral shoots, removing all new growth.
Grape Varieties for Growing Outdoors in Ireland
- 'Madeleine d'Angevine' - Not a very common grape for wine production. But here in Ireland it’s the best on offer. This is a white, early ripening, bunching grape. It does not self pollinate – so you will need to grow another grape close by.
- Schonburger – A late cropper, requires sunny conditions. Pink & white in colour this grape is popular for wine production in England. Yields aren’t massive. Suitable for dry wines
- Dunkelfelder - Deep Red grape, like most red grapes they require warmth and sun to mature. But these can be grown outdoors in the South East of Ireland