Making a Muscadine Vineyard

Wine can be made out of many materials grown on the farm from peaches to berries but, for most people wine comes from the fermentation of grapes. Many people have grapes growing in their backyard for making wine and of course in this part of Texas we are lucky to have native grapes growing wild in the countryside just waiting to be picked. Before the grape varieties of Europe were brought over and planted here, there were already many native American varieties of grape vines growing an abundance of grapes. One such native American variety is the Vitis Rotundifolia, or as it is locally known as the muscadine.
My neighbor, Mr. Smith, had an abundance of muscadines growing in his backyard and he was kind enough to let me come over to pick as much muscadines I wanted last year. I picked enough to make a six gallon batch of muscadine wine.  And what a beautiful wine it made! I immediately fell in love with it and decided I needed to have my own muscadine vineyard in my own backyard!
Of course my poor husband of 24 years who is now use to my quirkiness agreed to help me make it. Without him and his talent of being able to repair broken things and construct almost anything our farm would not be as successful as it is. He is handy like a handle on a bucket! With the talents of my husband this backyard vineyard turned out to be feasible and affordable.
The first step into making a muscadine vineyard is to find an appropriate area where the native muscadine would grow properly. Muscadines like fertile loamy acidic soil and can do well in a humid environment. The vines need adequate drainage.
To assure that our soil was at the most optimal for the native grapes to grow I had a soil test done. Information on how to conduct a soil sample-
Soil Testing-The Texas Pioneer Woman Blog-Grit Magazine.
The second step was to construct a trellis for the grape vines. Grape vines are naturally unruly. They need to be trained to grow in an orderly fashion so that the grapes are easy to pick when they are ripened. My husband made the trellis out of cedar posts and wire. We cut down cedar trees from my aunt’s property. We removed the limbs and kept the trunks. We used trunks about 9 inches in diameter. We buried the cedar posts 3 feet deep into the soil. We then used t-posts set 2 feet deep in the soil with a height of 6 feet above the soil. We also used wire to provide the framework of the trellis. We used four lines of wire. The first line of wire is 2 feet off the ground. The second line of wire is 3and ½ feet from the ground. The third line of wire is 5 feet from the ground and the fourth wire is 6 feet from the ground.
Muscadine Roots
The third step was to acquire young vines. I purchased my 1 year old bare root vines from texaspecannursery.com.  I purchased the vines in January for about $6.75 for each vine. Once I got the vines home I placed them laying flat on the ground and covered the roots with soil and sprinkle the soil with water. I will keep the vine roots covered with moist soil until I am ready to plant them.
I used cedar posts at both ends of the 3 rows of muscadine vines for stability.
The fourth step was to plant the muscadine vines. The vines should be planted about 20 feet apart.  I dug the hole wide enough to spread the roots and planted them to the depth of about 1 inch to 2 inches above the roots. Fill the planting hole with soil and water deeply.
The fifth step is to train the vines and to make sure they get adequate water and nutrition. Some vines will have one or two main trunks that will need to be loosely tied to the wire and posts so that they can be trained to grow as straight as possible. Once the main trunks are growing well make sure to pinch off any side shoots but leave any side leaves that are growing on the trunks. Once the main trunks are trained to the correct height begin letting the vines grow along the top wire by loosely tying the vines to the wire; one vine off the main trunk will be trained to grow left down the top wire the other vine off the main trunk will be trained to grow to the right side of the top wire.
The muscadine vine in the first spring after being planted.
Depending where your vines are and what other activities you have on your property will dictate if you need to put a fence around your muscadine vines. I have my muscadine vines in my front pasture that cows have access to at certain times during their rotational grazing, so I added a fence around the vines for protection.
Growing your own native grapes is fun and rewarding. It is a bit of hard work at the beginning but oh what beautiful and delicious fruit they will produce!  Enjoy eating the muscadines fresh off the vine, making muscadine jelly, and making your own homemade muscadine wine!
Training the Vines to Grow on top Trellis Wire

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