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Growing grapes in the home garden can be a little bit of work but it is definitely worth it. Fresh bunch grapes are a tasty summer treat. Wine made from homegrown grapes is great as well.
Why Not Muscadines in WNC?
Before we talk about growing grapes we need to establish that muscadine grapes do not grow well in our area. From our publication on muscadines: “Muscadine grapes are well adapted to the Coastal Plain (east) of North Carolina, where temperatures seldom fall below 10°F. Considerable injury generally occurs where winter temperatures drop below 0°F. Some of the more hardy cultivars such as ‘Magnolia,’ ‘Carlos’ and ‘Sterling’ survive northward to Virginia and westward to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Grow bunch grapes in the mountains, not muscadines!
So, basically, we do not recommend muscadines in the mountains. Just recently we had -14F degree temperatures two nights in a row. This is way too cold for muscadines. If you plant the vines they might grow but you will be lucky to get a crop once every few years. I would suggest not wasting much time or effort on muscadines if you live in the mountains.
Typically we grow bunch grapes in western NC. Best known to the home grape grower is the American bunch grape, which includes varieties such as Concord, Niagara, and Catawba. If you are interested in winemaking, the vinifera varieties (the old-world grape) or French hybrids (crosses of vinifera and American grapes) are best. Examples of the latter are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Seyval. (the varieties listed in Table 5 are classified by region rather than type of vine).
Grapes are not as particular to soils as are other small fruit crops. In fact, fertile soils make vines grow too much and the fruit tends be lower quality. Poor soils grow great grapes! Be sure to soil test before planting your vines so you can lime to the correct pH and fertilize adequately.
Learn how to produce your own small fruit such as grapes, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and others!
Most home plantings of grapes require few pesticides. These days we know that it is best to avoid using pesticides when possible. Maintaining good sanitation practices goes a long way toward keeping disease and insect damage under control. Rake up and bum or bury rotten fruit and dead leaves from under plants. Cut off and burn dead and injured twigs, branches, or canes. Japanese beetles are often the most serious insect pest on grapes. Observe the plants every few days to avoid severe defoliation. Diseases usually consist of powdery mildew. Should a serious problem develop, your county Cooperative Extension Agent can give information on the latest most environmentally friendly pesticides.