Growing grapes in the northwest

Swansons offers a selection of wonderful tasty grapes that have been known to produce well in our unique climate of cool summers. This information sheet provides you with a list of varieties recommended and usually offered by Swansons. It also offers basic advice on planting, care, and pruning. For more detailed information on any grape variety, please refer to individual plant signs or consult one of our nursery professionals.



CHOOSE YOUR VARIETIES according to color, flavor, use, or ripening time. In typical summers, grapes ripen in late September or October, depending on variety.
POLLINATION of grapes is performed by bees. Grapes are self-fertile so only one variety is necessary for successful harvest.


CHOOSE A LOCATION with very well-drained acidic soil that receives full sun. Avoid areas with soil that remains very moist or is too rich. Grapes actually prefer poorer soils as long as they are well-drained. Providing rocks, concrete or gravel around the planting area to trap and hold the sun's heat will also help.
PROVIDE A STURDY TRELLIS, ARBOR, OR FENCE where these heavy vines can train.
SPACE the plants at least 8 feet apart.


WATER THE PLANTS moderately after transplanting until they become established and also during fruiting. These drought-tolerant plants need little supplemental watering at other times.
FERTILIZE lightly in March with a mild, low-nitrogen fertilizer after the plants are established. Too much nitrogen will cause excessive vine growth and very little fruit.


PRUNE PLANTS from December to February and selectively during the summer. Pruning can be done in a variety of ways according to the structure on which they are grown.
THE GOAL OF PRUNING is to enhance fruiting and promote the general health of the vine. Grapes are produced on the current season's lateral growth that comes from one year old canes. It is usually necessary to thin out some fruiting laterals to prevent over-cropping and to promote good air circulation.


FUNGAL DISEASES are the biggest threat to grapes in our damp climate. Well-drained soil, full sun, and good air circulation are the best preventative measures to take. We recommend grape varieties that are relatively easy to care for and will provide years of productive harvests as well as ornamental beauty.
GOOD GARDEN HYGIENE is also important. Use sharp, clean pruners to prevent damage and the spread of disease from other plants. Clean up dead leaves beneath the vines during winter to help eliminate any pests trying to overwinter there or the spread of disease.