Hello there! My hubby and I are about to dive in and start gardening in with permaculture principles. We're in design/selection mode right now and would very much like to include a grape vine or two in an area of our yard that would work. I've sourced cold hardy organically grown vines from a nursery north of Montreal, however I would like to ask if anyone has experience with growing grapes in this climate.
The nursery suggests that after pruning in the fall, you bend over the main stalk and lay it flat on the groun. I imagine this is to allow the inevitable snow dump over winter to insulate the plant, but is there an alternative to this? Where we thought this plant would work is along our walkway from front to backyard and if we bend it over we'd be stepping all over it all winter taking out the garbage! Would wrapping it in burlap or other protection throughout the winter work just as well?
There are wild grapes throughout southern Ontario that are quite hardy.. You may find that they will make suitable root stock for the cultivar you choose. We had them growing in thorn trees near Kincardine. Very strong flavor, suitable for juice.
I've been selling wine for a few years so I can chime in with some info. Dependng on where in Ontario will limit what you can grow and how long. There are some cold hardy whites, Vidal comes to mind, that will handle frosts well into the minus temperatures. Reds, unless near a large body of water, I'd focus on lighter styles like merlot, baco noir, pinot noirs. Lighter reds need a shorter growing season than heavier reds like the cab's.
Whites will do better than reds in general, and for the first few years I agree with covering them. Some places around here cover their vines in straw/hay to protect them from ice and heavy snows. Also, if you are planning a large area you might want to think about adding some rose bushes. They are great indicators of diseases as they will hit the roses faster than the vines themselves, giving you a chance to fix the problem before it gets worse.
We live right in the city in Richmond Hill so have a very small space to work with. In fact, I'm only buying one of each plant as that is the limit of space that I have for them to grow. Our soil is typical crappy subdivision soil and is almost clay like. I'll be heavily mulching the area. Any other ideas as to how to prep the soil before planting? I should be taking delivery of these this spring (late April)...unless our plans go astray, in which case they'll be coming in the fall.
Both excellent choices for our climate Stef. Definitely trellis or use an existing fence for support and keep the bottom few feet well trimmed to prevent blight from hitting. You'll need decent airflow. A lot of the pro growers use stones as their mulch to create warmer micro climates near the stalk, which gives them a stronger later harvest. Should also work for these.