Ask Wine Wizard

Deprived Vines


Eduard Lapidus — Brooklyn, New York asks,

I have a lot of grapes growing in my backyard and I have been making wine for the past three years. I noticed that my grapes started to become dark purple and eventually dry up and fall off. Last year the same thing happened. I don’t know what the reason is. Do you think it could be a problem with the soil or irrigating? The whole June it was raining at least once or twice a week. I’m using composted manure from Home Depot to fertilize it. Can you please help me before all my grapes are lost?

It sounds to me like you possibly have a heat and/or overexposure problem there with your vines. I’ll share a little personal anecdote with you about a similar situation that I have some experience with in hopes that it relates to your own situation and helps you out. I have a Malbec grapevine in a pot, which my husband and I recently transplanted when we moved from our old house in downtown Napa, California to a new property off on the west side of town. At the old place, the grapevine used to be in a big 1⁄2 barrel planter that didn’t have a bottom, so roots had the opportunity to reach down into the soil underneath. When we moved, we dug it up and put it into a large 30-gallon (114 L) pot and put it in our new driveway, which faces due west. This is a very sunny spot but my Malbec vine, which is about three years old, is facing some challenges. Like your vines, the fruit shriveled earlier than expected after ripening on the usual trajectory
Response by Alison Crowe.