Grape Vine (Red) Growing Guide

Vitis species and hybrids, Vitis vinifera (European grapes), Vitis lambrusca (American grapes), and Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine grapes)

Grape Vine (Red)

Crop Rotation Group



Well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Cold tolerance varies widely among varieties, with some newer hybrids hardy to -26°C (-15°F). Winter chilling benefits most grapes by encouraging the uniform emergence of spring buds. Muscadine grapes adapt to warmer growing conditions better than bunch grapes and require minimal winter chilling.


Drench newly planted grapes with a liquid organic fertiliser in early summer, after they have leafed out and show vigorous new growth. Repeat in their second year. Plants more than two years old are deeply rooted and need only light annual feeding in spring. A mulch helps maintain moisture for shallow surface roots, and limits splashing of soil onto the leaves in wet weather.


Single Plants: 1.50m (4' 11") each way (minimum)
Rows: 1.50m (4' 11") with 1.50m (4' 11") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Dormant bare rooted plants can be planted during winter otherwise set out purchased plants in spring, just as the buds on the canes begin to swell. Container-grown plants can be transplanted into early summer. Most wine grapes are grafted onto disease-resistant rootstocks, with the graft union quite high, well above the soil line.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Grapes are very site-specific plants, so take time to gather information about locally-adapted varieties before deciding on a planting plan. Grant favour to disease resistant varieties recommended by local fruit experts or wine makers, depending on your goal. To keep the vines healthy and productive, established grapes require thoughtful pruning twice a year, in spring and late summer. Once you have chosen a variety, learn about its pruning needs, and the type of trellis recommended for its support.


Watch grape clusters closely as they approach ripeness, and pick off individual berries with dark spots or other issues. Use tulle netting if needed to protect the fruits from birds. When a taste tells you it’s time to harvest, cut clusters from the vine in the morning, while the fruit is cool, and move it to a refrigerator or cooler. Postpone washing until just before the grapes are used.


Grape foliage and fruits are subject to numerous diseases. Powdery mildew is common. Check plants often for signs of trouble, and clip out unhealthy branches. Protect young plants from browsing by deer. In Australia fruit fly are a pest of grapes, make sure to take appropriate control measures in areas where they are present. It is important to dispose of any infected fruit and fruit has fallen to the ground by placing them in a sealed plastic bag in the sun for at least 7 days to kill the eggs and larvae. Do not compost fruit as this will lead to the fruit fly completing their life cycle and lead to the problem recurring.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Grape Vine (Red)