Protecting Grape Vines from the Cold – What You Need to Know

Protecting Grape Vines from the Cold – What You Need to Know

Since the early ages of civilization, grapes have been important in many cultures. In particular, the production of wine – still one of the most consumed alcoholic drinks worldwide – needs grapes, and in plentiful quantities.

Grapes come in a wide range of types and are grown in a variety of countries across the world, but it is important to understand that there are certain conditions that will harm a vine.

Let’s start by talking about what severe – or even mild – cold can do to a grape vine.

Grape Vines and Cold

Grape vines are a seasonal plant, and once the grapes have been harvested, the cold season begins. During this season, the plant goes through three stages. The first of these stages is known as ‘acclimation’.

This begins once the grapes have reached fruition – in late summer – and involves the vine stopping growth. ‘Winter Dormancy’ is the next stage, and this continues through the winter month.

It is during this phase that a vine will either remain dormant and ready to grow again or – if it is not hardy enough – will die. If it does survive, it then enters the third stage of ‘de-acclimation’ whereby the plant begins to grow again.,

A hardy plant has survived the winter is at its most vulnerable during the latter phase. Should the vine bud early and the weather enter a cold spell, it is likely that the buds will be damaged, and the harvest impeded.

This can even be caused, in some locations, by exposure to heavy frost. The loss of a crop is a problem for commercial growers, and a disappointment for those growing grapes at home. What are the ideal conditions for growing grape vines?

Ideal Conditions for Growing Grapes

Before we move on, it’s important to note that as with many plants, hardy and weather resistant hybrid grape vines have been developed that make it easier to grow a vine at home.

While not immune to cold they do weather it better, so are worth looking at if you are in a cooler location.

As for the ideal growing conditions for grapes, here are a few of the main criteria that you should look to meet in order to have a successful crop:

  • A spring temperature of 16°C (61°F) is the starting point for growing grape vines.
  • Grapes for wine are usually grown against a south or south-west facing wall or fence, so they are sheltered and get the sun during the day.
  • Grape vines enjoy well-drained soil of any kind.


That’s really all there is to it, and if you shop around for the hardy breeds of vine you’ll find that they are surprisingly easy to grow either outdoors where the weather meets or is close to the above requirements, or in a greenhouse where they will be sheltered and can be kept at the right temperature.

It’s a lot of fun growing grapes, so start now and you’ll enjoy your first crop when the vine matures.