Growing Grapes On A Pergola is not that hard if you follow these instructions!

Hi friends,

In the previous post we spoke about summer pruning grapes vines and I showed you a picture I received from Lisa where she is growing grapes on a pergola.  Now, I received quite a few questions regarding the construction of pergolas and about growing grapes on a pergola.

As I said so many times before; growing grapes on a pergola or some sort of trellis is highly recommended, because of the following advantages:

  • It’s much easier to keep the grape vine under control during summer
  • Winter pruning will be much easier, because of an established frame work of the grape vine
  • The leaves of the grape vine are better exposed to the much needed sunlight – better photosynthesis and coloring
  • It allows for more effective summer treatments and spray coverage – less diseases
  • And finally, it will decorate you garden and most probably add value to you property as well!

As so many things in life; there are some disadvantage (con’s) as well:

  • When growing grapes on a pergola, you will have to work with your hands above your head
  • The cost of construction a pergola
  • Manual labor of constructing the pergola
  • And finally; how to train the grape vine to cover the pergola – this is where I come in :-)

1.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – First Things First

It is recommended that you construct your pergola BEFORE you plant the grape vines.  Once you planted the grape vines, you would want to start training the vines to reach the roof or canopy of the pergola as soon as possible.

There are two very important question you will have to ask yourself before you plant the grape vines.

  1. Will you be growing grapes on a pergola for the grapes as well as for decoration?
  2. Or are you growing grapes on a pergola just for decorating the pergola and not interested in the grapes?

When you are growing grapes on a pergola for decorative purpose only, then choose a variety that will produce no grape – ask your nursery for decorative grapes and not fruit producing grapes.

Constructing a pergola can be a challenge to many, but I think with the right plans, the right equipment and some spare time, anyone who can drill a hole, use a hammer and circle saw can construct one.  This could even be a family project to spend some quality time with the boys (or girls – yes they can help as well!).

Start by planning the project beforehand.  Decide on where you will erect the pergola and what shape and size it will be.  There are free plans available on the internet, but most of the time they are either incomplete, poor quality or very difficult to follow.

2.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Planting The Grape Vines

Let’s get back to growing grapes on a pergola, shall we?

When you have constructed the pergola, it’s time to plant the grape vines and start growing grapes on a pergola!

The question remains; what size pergola and how many grape vines to plant?  How vigorous a grape vine grows, depends on many external factors like variety, soil, climate, fertilizer, etc.  For me to give you the exact number of vines per squire feet of canopy is not that easy!

What I can tell you is that, when growing grapes on a pergola, an average vigor variety like Concord, will easily cover an area of round about 32 squire feet arbor space.  Depending how large the pergola is, keep this in mind because planting too many grape vines on a smallish pergola, will make summer treatments and pruning much harder!  Although it will take more time to cover the pergola, I recommend you start with one or two vines for every 64 squire feet – you can always plant more in the future!

After planting the grape vines, you need to train the grape vine to reach the top of the pergola.  When I’m growing grapes on a pergola or on any flat surface, I prefer to use only one training shoot, because this will ensure your grape vine reach the top of the pergola in no time.  When you have achieved this, you will then train the grape vine along the width or the length of the canopy – depending on how many grape vines you plant and where you will plant them.

Important: Remember that when growing grapes on a pergola, you will need to construct a sturdy pergola that will withstand strong winds, snow, rain and the increasing weight of a grape crop.  30 to 50 Bunches of grapes can get quite heavy!

3.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Training The Grape Vine

Your goal during the first year of growing grapes on a pergola is to reach the canopy as soon as possible.  You will probably not cover the the surface of the pergola during the first year, but if you train the grape vine the correct year, you will be able to do that in the second year of growing grapes on a pergola.

I made this video for the members of The Complete Grape Growing System, but decided to upload it to a private YouTube channel for you to see – I’ve made a similar video a couple of years ago, and was actually one of the first YouTube videos I made – since then it has been viewed more than 45 000 times – amazing!

Anyway, I think you will get the bigger picture of what to do when you will be growing grapes on a pergola.

4.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Summer Manipulations and Winter Pruning

Growing grapes on a pergola is very popular among backyard or home grape growers.  So many of these grape growers fail miserably, because they think that once the grape vine covers the pergola, all is fine – NOT TRUE!

As with any other grape vine; when growing grapes on a pergola you must continue to look after the vines.  Believe me; working on a grape vine that is 6 to 8 feet above the surface of the soil is not very comfortable.  Where I live, the guys with commercial flat roof trellises tells me that the productivity of their farm workers is 50% lower than on normal trellis systems and that is understandable and that is also why so many home grape growers tends to neglect the grapes on a pergola.

Remember to keep on doing summer treatments.  Prune the grape vine EVERY year and prune hard, especially if it is a vigorous growing variety.

Growing Grapes On A Pergola – The Final Thoughts

I am growing grapes on a pergola next to my swimming poolTo sum this up:

– Construct a strong enough pergola BEFORE you plant the grape vine
– Plant the grape vines at strategic points so covering the canopy will be easier but DO NOT   plant too   many grape vines for your pergola size.
– Using proper training techniques when growing grapes on a pergola will ensure you cover the canopy in the second year
– Summer treatments like leave pulling, suckering, removal of water shoots etc. is still important
– Use proper pruning techniques



Thanks for reading this article and I hope you now understand the basics of growing grapes on a pergola.



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