How to plant and grow grapes in central Russia

Over the past decades, grapes in the gardens of central Russia have already become a fairly familiar culture. In the areas of experienced amateurs, the earliest southern varieties, carefully sheltered for the winter, successfully grow and bear fruit. Breeders also created special hybrids with increased frost resistance, the cultivation of which is easy for even a novice gardener.

What grapes can be grown in central Russia

By its nature, grapes are a thermophilic southern plant. Its advance north from the zone of industrial viticulture is constrained by several factors at once:

  • low winter temperatures;
  • short growing season;
  • lack of summer heat.

Nevertheless, over the past half century, great successes have also been achieved in the gardens of central Russia in the amateur culture of the earliest southern grape varieties, and fairly winter-hardy resistant varieties have been created that can winter without shelter and bring annual stable crops.

Near Moscow grapes on video

The main areas of northern viticulture are three:

  • growing grapes in greenhouses;
  • cover culture of early grape varieties in open ground;
  • cultivation of frost-resistant non-covering varieties.

The greenhouse culture was not particularly widespread among amateurs because of its excessive laboriousness and high cost.

Southern grape varieties can be grown in unheated greenhouses

Shelter culture of the early southern varieties in the gardens of the middle lane is quite possible, albeit troublesome.

For almost half a century, my gardening neighbor has been growing several grape varieties brought from Crimea in the years of her youth. Our sites are located on top of a small hill with well-cultivated sandy soil. On the whole, our average Volga climate is very close to the Moscow region, we only have a little hotter and drier summer and a little milder winter. Of course, some of the imported varieties disappeared for such a long time. Of the remaining, the most valuable is Pearl Saba and Chasla white. It is interesting that in our conditions, isabel varieties of Crimean origin freeze out according to snow level, growing back from the root every spring, while our local grapes are of the same type (most likely this is Alpha, widely distributed in the middle lane under the erroneous name Isabella) winters well on walls and arbors, giving annual harvests without any care at all.

Photo gallery of grape varieties for the middle strip

Grape Pearl Saba

White Chasselas Grapes

Grapes Alpha

Zilga grapes

Grapes Russian Concord

Grape varieties for central Russia (table)

TitleA typeBerry colorShelter for the winter and frost resistanceDisease resistance
Pearl Saba Classic European grape variety WhiteBe sure to cover very carefully (freezes at -19 ..- 22 ° C) Very low
Chasla whiteBe sure to cover very carefully (freezes at -15 ..- 18 ° C)
AlphaLabrusca grape hybrid with American coastal grapesDark blue to almost blackWinters without shelter to -35 ..- 40 ° С Very high
ZilgaLabrusca grape hybrid with European grapesNavy blueWinters without shelter to -23 ..- 26 ° С
Russian ConcordLabrusca grape hybrid with Amur grapeDark pinkWinters without shelter up to -27 ..- 30 ° СAbove average

Isabel (labrusque) type grapes are complex hybrids obtained with the participation of North American wild labrus grapes. In their characteristics, hybrids with the participation of wild Amur grapes, which are often assigned to the same economic group of varieties, are very close to them. Their main advantages:

  • increased winter hardiness (up to -35 ..- 40 ° C without any shelter);
  • regular and very abundant fruiting;
  • high disease resistance (in our area on the Middle Volga Labruscus grapes are not sprayed with anything at all - there is simply no need for it, it doesn’t hurt us anything);
  • resistance to phylloxera (this is the worst pest of southern vineyards).

The true Isabella is a southern variety with a very late maturity. In the middle lane, other varieties are hidden under this name, most often Alpha, as well as nameless seedlings from varieties of this group.

As for the taste of berries ... isabel varieties have a very peculiar aftertaste and aroma that can not be confused with anything. In fresh form, they do not have many fans, but for processing (wine, compote, jam, can be mixed with other fruits and berries) they are very good.

Rumors about the supposedly mortal danger of isabella grapes are actively disseminated by competitors - European producers of wine from traditional grapes. At least, the Italians themselves planting their famous fragolino (the Italian variety of isabel type) continue to take care and care, not at all going to get rid of them. And in excessive doses, in general, any alcohol is harmful.

Grapes Alpha on video

Planting grapes in central Russia

With a successful correct planting in a good place, grapes can grow and bear fruit for many decades, without reducing yield.

Selection and preparation of a plot for a vineyard

Ideal vineyard plots in central Russia:

  • the slopes of the south, southeast and southwest are well-lit and warmed by the sun;
  • protected from the cold northern winds by the walls of buildings, capital fences or dense forest belts;
  • fertile, deeply cultivated sandy loam or light loamy soils, easily permeable to water and air.

Grapes grow well on the warm and bright southern slopes

Strongly not suitable for the vineyard:

  • northern slopes;
  • areas shaded by buildings or large trees;
  • peat bogs with close groundwater;
  • moist lowlands with heavy clay soil, where water stagnates in spring.

The optimum acidity of the soil should be in the range of 6.5–7.2 for European grape varieties of the traditional type or 5.5–7.0 for complex hybrids of the Labrusque and Amur groups. It is necessary to analyze the soil no later than one year before planting the vineyard, in order to reduce acidity if necessary by adding lime or dolomite flour. Calcareous materials are evenly scattered over the site before deep digging and embedded in the ground. It is impossible to bring them directly into the pits during planting, this can burn the roots of seedlings.

Optimum soil acidity for grapes from 5.5 to 7.2

The device of trellises and arbors

For its normal growth and fruiting, grapes need a reliable support, the frame of which is made of durable metal pipes or wooden beams soaked in antiseptic. Winter-hardy non-covering varieties can be grown on arbors of any height and configuration. Various supports attached to the south side of the house are well suited for grapes.

Supports for grapes are conveniently attached to the southern walls of buildings

For cover grapes it is not advisable to arrange supports above two - two and a half meters. When planning the entire structure, sufficient space should be provided for the autumn laying of vines on the ground.

Covering grapes for the winter are removed from the supports and laid on the ground

The simplest support for grapes is a trellis of several pillars with a wire stretched between them. The distance between neighboring posts is about two meters, they are dug into the ground at least half a meter, and for reliability it is better to concrete. On long trellises, the extreme posts must be strengthened in one of the ways:

  • from the outside of the trellis, small columns-anchors are dug into the ground with a slope outward, the outer posts are tied to them by a tightly stretched thick wire;
  • the extreme poles on the inside of the trellis are firmly supported by additional inclined support posts, the lower ends of which are dug into the ground.

The distance between adjacent trellises should be about two meters. They are located in the north-south direction, so that the bushes of grapes are better and more evenly illuminated by the sun throughout the day.

The extreme pillars of grape trellis should be carefully strengthened.

The wire on the trellis is pulled in three or four parallel rows with a distance between them from thirty to fifty centimeters. If the grapes are covering, instead of the traditional wire, you can stretch a strong synthetic rope that can withstand one or even several seasons.

For long-term supports, especially for non-covering grapes, all wooden parts must be impregnated with decay, and the iron parts must be coated with rust.

Selection and planting of seedlings

In central Russia, grapes are best planted in spring, from late April to late May. With a later landing, he risks not having time to take root well over the summer. Seedlings should be purchased only in specialized nurseries of their region.

In no case should one plant seedlings of dubious origin brought from the south: firstly, they have insufficient winter hardiness, and secondly, with southern seedlings it is possible to bring into the garden the most dangerous quarantine pest - phylloxera, which still does not exist in central Russia. Any seedlings from an unnamed roadside bazaar are a potential source of danger.

Before buying, make sure that the seedling is alive, not dried or rotted. Saplings with an open root system can be taken only until the buds open. Container seedlings can also be with leafy leaves, in this case, after planting, they need easy protection from bright sunlight and possible return frosts.

To plant grapes, dig deep holes with a drainage layer at the bottom

  • Pits for grapes are needed large, 60–70 centimeters deep and 80–100 centimeters in diameter. Dig them better in the fall. The distance between adjacent holes should be no less than a meter, to save power, you can dig holes after two to three meters and plant two seedlings in each on opposite sides of the hole.
  • At the bottom of the pit, a drainage layer of broken brick, gravel, slate fragments and other similar materials should be placed. Especially necessary is drainage on loams and clays where stagnation of water is possible.
  • From the side of the pit opposite from the future planting site of the seedling, it is desirable to place a segment of the asbestos cement pipe so that its lower end abuts against the drainage layer and the upper slightly rises above the soil level around the pit. From above, this piece of pipe must be closed with a lid from a can or a cut plastic bottle to avoid getting different debris. This system will allow in the future to properly water the grapes, supplying water to a sufficient depth directly to the roots. You can not place the irrigation pipe very close to the seedling: in winter, freezing of the roots is possible. The optimal distance from the seedling to the pipe is about 70 centimeters.
  • A layer of fertile soil mixed with humus and fertilizers should be poured over the drainage. The approximate fertilizer rate per hole: 1-2 buckets of decomposed humus or compost, 200-300 grams of superphosphate, 50-100 grams of potassium salt. Nitrogen fertilizers, lime and fresh manure should not be introduced during planting.
  • During planting, a small mound of prepared fertile soil is poured into the pit, on which it is necessary to lay a seedling with a slope in the direction where the vines will be laid when sheltering for the winter. Non-covering varieties can be planted vertically.
  • Sapling roots should be spread evenly to the sides and covered with a layer of earth. With proper planting, the lower part of the seedling (heel) should be at a depth of about half a meter from the soil surface.
  • If the buds of a seedling have not yet woken up, you can immediately completely cover it with soil so that one bud remains above the surface. If a seedling with blossoming leaves, it is first planted shallowly, and then, as the shoots grow, the ground is gradually added. For the first summer, all the earth removed during digging should return back to the pit.
  • The planted seedling must be carefully watered with two buckets of water from a watering can with a spray so that the soil evenly settles and compacts.
  • After planting, you can cover the hole with the seedling with a piece of film or agrofiber, pressing the edges of the covering material with stones to the ground. Especially important is such a shelter during the early planting of seedlings with already leafy leaves.

Features of grape care in central Russia

During the summer season, the main concern in the vineyard is to prevent the grapes from turning into impenetrable jungle. It grows very quickly, and shoots left unattended are mixed up in a completely unthinkable way.

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With winter-hardy non-covering varieties, everything is simple: shoots growing in the right direction are tied to the support if necessary, growing in an undesirable direction or are bent in a timely manner and fixed on the support, or cut or nipped. The main task in this case is to get a beautiful and uniform green cover on the wall of the gazebo or at home. Labrusque varieties grow very rapidly, and yield even in the absence of any formation.

Winter-hardy Alpha grapes grow quickly, forming a dense green canopy

When working with cover varieties, you always have to remember that in the fall there will be hard work to remove the vines from the supports and lay them on the ground. In industrial winegrowing, an individual system of bush formation and crop normalization is used for each grade, taking into account the trellis design, varietal characteristics, condition and level of development of each particular bush. So they achieve maximum yields of the best commercial quality. In amateur conditions, especially for beginner gardeners, it is enough to get at least a small crop of their own grapes, which is quite achievable without excessive wisdom.

For more than forty years, my summer neighbor has been annually receiving a small crop of early southern grapes of the white Chasla and Saba Pearls. Its grapes ripen at the end of September, the brushes are not large, but the berries are very sweet and tasty. At the same time, she does not make any differences in the care between her varieties (she still grows some Crimean variety of isabel type, less tasty, but more productive, as well as Lydia, which almost never really ripens), and the whole summer formation is reduced to tying up vines on the principle of “so that it is beautiful and comfortable” plus a thorough shelter for the winter (she also harbors isable varieties because of their southern origin).

Lydia grapes are a southern late variety of isabel type, almost never ripening in the middle lane

In the climatic conditions of central Russia, grapes rarely need watering, only with prolonged absence of rain. It is best to water at least two or three buckets of water per plant installed in advance when planting a well-pipe, not more than twice a month (for very young plants in extreme heat, water a bucket of water once a week). Frequent shallow watering for grapes is very dangerous: under such conditions, the bushes switch to dewy roots lying on the very surface of the soil, freezing during winter frosts. You can not water during flowering (due to excess moisture, the berry's knotting decreases) and at the time of harvest ripening (berries crack due to uneven moisture).

Grapes blooms in the first half of June. Damp and cloudy weather during flowering interferes with normal pollination and causes the formation of underdeveloped small berries (the so-called peeling of grapes). Most modern varieties have bisexual flowers and do not need to plant additional pollinating varieties. Flowers and young shoots of grapes can suffer from return frosts, sometimes you even have to cover them with agrofibre, therefore it is better to place the lower trellis wire not high above the ground.

During flowering, grapes are very vulnerable, suffer from frosts and even rains.

The soil in the vineyard should be kept loose and weed-free throughout the season. Mulching the soil with any organic or special agrofibre will help get rid of weeds.

The first two - three years after planting the grapes enough fertilizer introduced into the planting pit when planting a seedling. Adult vineyards fertilize annually in spring. It is most convenient to arrange liquid top dressing (dosage for 1 adult bush):

  • 5 liters of water;
  • 30-50 grams of superphosphate;
  • 15–20 grams of potassium salt;
  • 25-30 grams of ammonium nitrate.

Freshly prepared fertilizer solution is poured into irrigation pipes-wells twice a season:

  • 8-10 days before flowering;
  • 8-10 days after flowering.

In wet rainy weather, instead of a fertilizer solution, dry fertilizers are used in the same doses, evenly distributing them over the entire area of ​​the near-stem circle and shallowly planting them in the soil.

In spring or autumn, half a bucket of well-decomposed compost or humus can be brought under each bush, using it to mulch the soil or shallowly dig into the ground when digging.

The main diseases of grapes:

  • oidium (powdery mildew);
  • mildew (downy mildew);
  • gray rot.

In the middle lane, the first two are very rare. In practice, in most cases, chemical treatments can be dispensed with if you buy initially healthy seedlings and keep the grape bushes in good condition, in a sunny place and without excessive thickening. Загнившие кисти в дождливую осень достаточно просто срезать секатором и закопать поглубже в землю за пределами участка. Лабрусковые сорта и вовсе ничем не болеют. Страшной филлоксеры (виноградной корневой тли) в средней полосе пока нет. Поэтому северный виноград может и должен быть экологически чистым.

Моя соседка вообще не пользуется никакими ядохимикатами. Но благодаря хорошо освещаемому проветриваемому участку и отсутствию внешних источников инфекции весь виноград у неё здоровый и чистый, даже сортов с низкой болезнеустойчивостью.

Shelter of grapes for the winter

Осенью после наступления первых заморозков лозы укрывного винограда надо снять с опор и уложить на землю для укрытия. Самые молодые растения даже зимостойких лабрусковых сортов тоже можно уложить на землю и слегка укрыть для надёжности. Простейшее укрытие — кусок стеклоткани или агроволокна, уложенный поверх лозы и по краям придавленный камнями, чтобы не сдуло ветром.

Простейшее укрытие винограда — уложить лозу на землю и накрыть куском стеклоткани, прижав по краям камнями к земле

Незимостойкие сорта надо укрывать боле капитально:

  1. Снять лозу с опор; осторожно оборвать и унести в компостную кучу листья, если они не осыпались сами.
  2. Постелить на землю возле куста не подверженное гниению покрытие (пластик, стеклоткань, рубероид), аккуратно уложить на него лозу, не поломав.

    Лозы винограда укладывают на не подверженную гниению подстилку

  3. Уложенный на землю виноград закрепить крючьями или низкими дугами. Можно нетуго связать лозы в пучок.

    Укрываемый виноград надо закрепить к земле, для удобства лозы можно нетуго связать вместе

  4. Можно дополнительно утеплить виноград хвойным лапником или камышовыми матами. Утеплитель не должен гнить от сырости или привлекать мышей, поэтому солома и опилки не подходят.
  5. Сверху поставить дуги и укрыть плотной полиэтиленовой плёнкой, чтобы под укрытием осталось небольшое воздушное пространство. Края плёнки прижать камнями и присыпать землёй. Это надо делать, когда установятся устойчивые температуры около нуля или на пару градусов ниже.

    Затем виноград укрывают по дугам плотным полиэтиленом, присыпая его края землёй

Winter thawing during thaws is no less dangerous for grapes than frosts. Therefore, you can’t rush into shelter, and during long winter thaws, airing may be necessary, for which the film is slightly lifted from the ends.

In spring, shelter must be removed immediately after the snow has melted. At first, the grapes can be left open for a short time, but not tied up, so that if there is a threat of freezing, it is easy to cover it with a film or agrofiber.

Autumn pruning reduces the winter hardiness of grapes. In spring, during sap flow (just before buds open), cutting is also dangerous - there will be a strong “crying” of vines, which will very deplete the plants. The optimal pruning period for the middle band is immediately after budding, when the sap flow has already ended, but the leaves and shoots have not yet begun to actively grow. When pruning grapes above a kidney, it is imperative to leave a stump of two to three centimeters. The first step is to cut out everything dried up, broken and rotted over the winter, as well as extra and weak shoots. If there are enough good healthy vines left, too long of them can be shortened, and some of the oldest can be cut out completely.

After pruning, the grapes are tied to a support, trying to distribute more or less evenly on its surface, taking into account the expected summer growth of shoots.


Alpha and Zilgu can be grown as non-covering, but it depends on the microclimate of the site.


Zilga grapes. In the suburbs successfully grows and bears fruit without shelter.

Riga woman

Isabella is truly a southern grape. And what we call “Isabella” for its isabelic taste, is actually “Alpha”

Summer resident

Growing grapes in the middle zone of Russia is not particularly difficult if you choose the variety and the place for planting. A huge advantage of this region is the absence of dangerous quarantine pests that annoy the southern vineyards. And the most winter-hardy hybrid grape varieties grow perfectly even among beginner gardeners, not needing either winter shelter or complicated care.


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