You can’t make great wine without great fruit, and top vineyards don’t, as a rule, hock their best grapes to home wine makers in 100 lb lots. I have bought grapes and made good wine from them, but I’ve always wanted to grow my own. With control over yield and harvest combined with endless fussing, I’ll be bottling a great vintage from my own grapes. That’s the plan, anyway. I had to overcome two big hurdles: wine grapes don’t grow in this climate (I live near Seattle, WA, USA). Even if they did, I don’t enough room, or good soil, in my backyard to grow them.
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I discovered that wine grapes do grow here! Cool climate varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are being grown commercially in the Puget Sound area and local vineyards/wineries are making wine from locally grown, if more obscure grapes.
Even if the climate is suitable, grapes need a lot of room. They’re normally planted four to eight feet apart in rows that are up to ten feet apart. My 10,000 square foot lot isn’t small, as suburban lots go, but the house (and the patio and the driveway) takes up a good chunk of that. Plus there’s this hard pan about a foot down. Grapes hate that; they’ll put roots down six feet or more easily. I discovered the solution in the Africus Rex bonsai vineyard. Jeff Chorniak has been growing, and making wine from, Cabernet Franc grown in pots like bonsai trees. If he can do it in Toronto, Canada, then I can do it in Bellevue, WA!
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