Top Tips for Growing Wine Grapes at High Elevations
People grow grapes for many reasons. Some like to snack on juicy grapes for the taste and health benefits. Others might really love to turn them into raisins. However, most people grow grapes to make wine. But if you live in an elevated climate, such as the Boulder area, growing grapes can pose some problems. However, it also has some distinct advantages.
Despite this problem, some of the most famous vineyards and grape-growing regions for wine are located at high elevations. These lofty locations include very unique microclimates, terrains and soil conditions, all of which contribute to the flavor, color and aroma of the grapes.
The typical temperature at mountain vineyards tends to remain about 15 degrees cooler than in lower valleys below. Being above the fog line, growing grapes at higher altitudes has its advantages. This includes the air circulation the slopes provide, which helps prevent too much humidity. It also prevents over-drying of the grape foliage.
Mountain slopes also have superior drainage. However, growing grapes at higher elevations requires special effort when planting the vines. Keep in mind that mountain slopes are prone to erosion, so it is critical to study the steepness of the slope and the types of vines that can grow in such conditions.
The steepest parts of mountain slopes might also be covered with trees and/or rocks, which can make planting vines difficult. Trumpet vines, for example, grow quite well in rocky areas. They are aromatic and have thick trunks and produce large clusters of grapes that are great for wine-making.
Finding the Right Location
Although most vineyards are typically found in rolling hills, don’t discount higher elevations. There are quite a few varieties that thrive in drier mountain climates, such as Cabernet and Chardonnay. Northern California, particularly the Santa Cruz and Napa areas, is a testament to a higher yield. The mountain areas of Colorado could also be the next great wine region.
Potential Problems of Growing Grapes at Higher Altitudes
The soil found on certain mountain slopes can be quite dry and rocky, which is a grape grower’s arch nemesis. Before trying to grow in these areas, always test the soil to ensure your vines will actually flourish. If your mountain soil is fertile, you will need to provide some shade for your vines during the hot summer months.
Do Your Research
There are several factors to consider when considering what and where to grow. First, research your climate zone and then choose plants that will prosper in your area. Vines that are native to your climate zone should grow nicely.
Educate yourself on Lepidoptera and leafhoppers In grapes. These can be controlled, but if not they will suck the life out of your grapes. You should also learn about the detrimental effects of over-harvesting, which can also lead to disease.
By adhering to the above advice, you’ll be growing great grapes at your high-altitude plot in no time. And who knows, one day your wine might be a household name.