Not many things can be as rewarding, or challenging, as growing your own backyard grapes. Below are links to information sources specific for the hobby viticulturist.
Importance of Clean Plants and Quarantines
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Regardless of whether you are a commercial grape producer or a backyard enthusiast, Washington State has strict quarantines regarding where your grapes come from. DO NOT bring back grape plants from your trips abroad (whether domestic or international). Doing so may result in very strict fines, but more importantly, may bring in diseases and pests that could severely hurt the commercial grape industry. ONLY buy stock from reputable nurseries. All plant materials originating outside of WA (whether certified or not) need to be inspected by the WSDA upon arrival; notify the nursery that they need to include an origination certificate (more information below) with the shipment. Just because an out-of-state nursery will ship to you, does not mean it is legal to do so. More information on “planting clean” and WA quarantines are found here:
- FAQ’s about Clean Plants – Clean Plant Center – Northwest Grapes
- Certified Nurseries – Planting “Clean” is key to successful grape production in Washington State and beyond.
- Start Clean, Stay Clean – Video on Clean Plants in Washington State
- WA Plant Quarantines – WSDA Information on Plant Quarantines for Washington
- Why Clean Plants? (.pdf) – Washington Wine Industry Foundation
General Grape Information
For general information regarding grape production, including common terms and techniques, please refer to the eViticulture website. This website is populated with articles written by viticulture Extension specialists from across North America
Many different states in up-and-coming production areas have excellent resources on starting a small vineyard. The principles behind trellising and training a vine similar, and should help you in your backyard endeavors.
- WESTERN WA – Growing Grapes in Maritime Washington – WSU #EM068e
- Growing Grapes in the Home Garden (.pdf) – Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
- Growing Grapes in Your Home Garden (.pdf) – Oregon State University Extension
- Growing Grapes in the Home Garden – Colorado State University Extension
- Growing Grapes in the Backyard – University of California Cooperative Extension
- Table Grape Production – WSU V&E Webpage
Nutrient and Fertilizer Management
- ORGANIC – Soil Fertility in Organic Systems (.pdf) – #PNW644
- Nutrition for Vineyards – A WSU Viticulture Website
- NOTE: Most guidelines are geared for production systems. For the backyard grapevine, you likely will not need as fine-tuned a nutrient program. In many cases, following the fertilizer instructions on common complete-nutrient garden fruit-and-vegetable fertilizers will be just fine.
- DO NOT USE WEED-AND-FEED type fertilizers on or near grapevines. They contain broad-leaf herbicides that vines are very sensitive to.
Variety Selection for Your Backyard Vineyard
Other than factors related to cold hardiness (ability to survive the winter), and in-season temperatures (having enough heat to ripen fruit), backyard growers have much more flexibility in variety choice than commercial growers. In Washington, most of the varieties selection limitations will be related to surviving the winters; fortunately, most southern and western locations in the state are good for most grape (table, juice, wine) varieties.
- WESTERN WA -Growing Grapes in Maritime Washington – WSU #EM068e
- Table Grapes for the Home Garden (.pdf) – Oregon State University
- Cool Climate Table Grape Varieties – Cornell University
- Identifying Unknown Grapes (Grape Genetic Testing) – A service provided by the Foundation Plant Service out of UC-Davis that can determine the variety/cultivar of an unknown grapevine. Clonal identification is currently not available, and not all varieties are in their genetic database.
Where to Buy Vines
A list of Washington and Oregon nurseries that carry certified grapevines can be found on the Clean Plant Center Northwest’s Website
Propagating grapevines can be an easy way to get new vines, but it could also mean that you are propagating diseases present in the parent vine. Prior to propagating your own material, please test the vines for known viruses or other diseases. Testing and Diagnostic services are listed at: https://wine.wsu.edu/extension/pest-management/
Grapevine Propagation Information:
- Things to Consider When Propagating Vines – University of Minnesota
- Propagation of Grapevines – A Practical Guide – University of New Mexico
- Propagating Grapevines (PDF) – Texas AgriLife
Trellising Your Backyard Vineyard
Pruning Your Backyard Vineyard
- Pruning Basics for Backyard Grapes (.pdf) – WSU Webpage
- Pruning Backyard Grapes – Ohio State University Extension
- Pruning Grapes: An Overview – eXtension.org / eViticulture.org Webpage
- Grapevine Pruning Practices – eXtension.org / eViticulture.or Webpage
- Pruning Videos
Pest Management in Your Backyard Vineyard
Pest management is one of the more challenging aspects for backyard gardeners. Use the following resources to help guide you in your understanding of grape pest management.
Getting Your License
- WSDA – Pesticide Licensing Information: Which license do I need, if I need one?
Understanding Pesticide Labels
- Learning about Labels (Pesticides) (.pdf) – WSU # FSIPM001
- Pesticides: Safe Handling (.pdf) – WSU #FSIPM003e
- Pesticide Label Database – Crop Data Management Systems Database
Calibrating Your Backpack Sprayer
- Calibrating Backpack Sprayers (.pdf) – Pacific Northwest Extension Publishing
- Calibrating Backpack Sprayers (Video) – Penn State University Pesticide Education
General Pest Management
- WSU HortSense – Information on pest management for homeowners.
- Grape Pest Management in Washington – WSU #EB0762e
- WSU Grape Pests, Diseases and Disorders – WSU Webpage
- Pest Control in Small Vineyards (.pdf) – Michigan State University Extension (Not all insects and diseases listed in this guide are present in WA).
Water and Irrigation Management
- Low-Pressure Irrigation Systems for Small Plots – NMSU Extension Pub
- Washington’s Water – WSU Website relating to water use and associated issues
WSU Master Gardener Program
Learn about gardening through your local Master Gardener program.
eXtension – Grapes
National Extension effort developing online resources for grape production. Visit their website at: https://grapes.extension.org/
WSU Viticulture & Enology Certificate Program
Expand your knowledge by taking one class or an entire program online through WSU.