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Can Grapevines Survive Winter?

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

European grapevines are more susceptible to disease and have less tolerance for cold temperatures than American grapevines - this is good news for American grape growers. While frost will generally not kill grapevines, it isn't fun to deal with on wineries. There are many winter gardening tasks that must be performed this season to guarantee a bountiful supply of grapes in the spring. 

Winter is all about spring preparation and vineyard frost protection. 

For starters, vines will need to be pruned (remove canes from previous year) to produce a lot of fruit. Leave just enough buds in case of cold damage. If vines continue to grow, they will produce dense shade but little fruit. To avoid freezing during the winter, place a sprinkler near the vines and turn it on before you go to bed at night. Allow the sprinkler to coat the vines in water, which will turn to ice overnight. Turn the sprinkler off in the morning or when temperatures are again above freezing.

To prepare for spring budding, winemakers and grape growers should consider installing deer fencing to protect grapes from wildlife destruction. 

The best time of year to grow grapes is in late winter and early spring; so, it's time to start planning your vineyard.