The island of Sardinia boasts a wonderfully warm climate. It has a characteristic summer lasting 6 months since the ocean is warm enough to swim in from May to October.
Because it has such a warm climate, it is ideal for growing grapes! Grapes thrive in hot weather and if grown correctly, you are sure to yield many wonderful grapes bursting with flavour – so refreshing in the midst of Summer!
But how do you grow these grapes successfully? If you find yourself asking this question, not to worry! We are here to help. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about growing grapes on the Sardinian hillside.
If you’re interested, read on for more!
How To Grow Grapes On The Hillside In Sardinia: Step By Step Guide
The best time to plant grapes on Sardinian hillsides is during the spring. Here’s everything you need to know about growing grapes on the hillside in Sardinia (see more about growing crops in Sardinia here).
Step 1: Choose The Right Hillside
It is best to plant grapevines on hillsides, typically on the southern-facing slope. This is so they are protected from the wind and get the maximum amount of sunlight. Not only that, it is good to plant grapes on hillsides so any excess water drains with ease.
Hillsides also have soil that is low in nutrients, so it forces the roots of the grape seeds to travel further (see more about the best Italian soil). This results in healthier, larger grapes, especially when compared to grapes grown on flat land.
The ideal Sardinian hillside for growing grapes will have around 6-8 hours of sun exposure a day. There should be no trees on the hillside, nor should there be any other vegetation growing there.
Once you have found the correct hillside, make sure you have room to grow the grapes. Grapevines are usually grown in rows that end ¼ past the hills’ crest.
If you plant the grapes any further down the crest it means those grapes will not be planted on a hillside and the yield will not be as good compared to your other grapes.
Step 2: Test The Soil
Part of choosing the right hillside is making sure the soil is suitable to grow grapes (see more about growing crops on a hillside here). Grapes can be picky about the condition of their soil, so you need to ensure that it is perfect before you plant the grapes. The best soil for grapes should have a pH of slightly over 7 and should be a little sandy or rocky.
So, once you have found a hillside that meets all the conditions above, try and get the soil tested at a soil testing laboratory or agricultural extension office. Alternatively, you can buy a pH testing kit to test the soil yourself.
Step 3: Mark The Rows
Now, you need to mark the rows where you will be planting the grapevines. It is best to do this by staring at the top of the hill and then moving your way down.
There should be around 5 to 8 ft of space between every row to allow for the circulation of air and sunlight to reach every row.
Step 4: Dig Holes
Now, it’s time to dig the holes for the grape plants! These holes should be around 24 inches deep and 6 inches wide. You will need to layer the bottom of every hole with around 6 inches of gravel because this will allow for better drainage and better fruits.
Step 5: Choose The Right Kind Of Grapes
Now, you need to choose the right kind of grapes from grapevines. Since Sardinia is in Europe, European grapes will be best to grow there because they will be suitable for the environment.
The best grapevines are strong and healthy and are typically a year old. Many grape plants will be certified as virus-free, and it is best to choose those to get the best yield of grapes.
It is also a good idea to look for plants that will have an even distribution of roots and symmetrical canes.
Step 6: Make The Grapevine Trellis
Grapevines grow upwards and need support from a sturdy structure. So, if you are not using a fence to support the grapes, then you will need to make a trellis. Trellis’ are wooden structures made using boards that intertwine and permit the grapevines to wrap around them.
To make the trellis, it is best to set 4 x 4, 6 ft posts into the holes you have just made. Then, take some thick wire, around 2 strands, and attach it to the first post (around 24 to 48 “ up) Now, to complete the trellis, all you need to do is string the wires from one post to another.
Step 7: Prep The Grapevine Cuttings
Now, you will need to cut some grapevines. Cut the sections that you need from a recently pruned brush or vine. This should be 3 nodes long and the cut should be around 1 inch above the node, at a 45-degree angle.
Step 8: Plant The Grapevines
Now, the grapevines are ready to plant! European grapevines need to be planted around 6-10 ft apart from one another. Dig more holes around 2x wider than the previous ones, removing any rocks or sticks that you find while digging.
Plant the cuttings into a hole with the centre bud and basal fully covered. You should be able to see the top bud peeking out of the surface of the soil. You should also mix some compost with the soil to help the plants grow.
Now, press on the soil so it sits firmly around the grapevine cuttings. It is not a good idea to use mulch for grapevines growing on the hillside. This is because it will fall down the slope with any watering or rainfall.
Step 9: Tie The Grapevines To The Trellis
Take the grapevine canes and tie them to the bottom and top of the trellis.
Step 9: Water And Fertilize The Plants
Water the grapes well. When Sardinia is going through periods of little rainfall, be sure to water the grapes thoroughly. Otherwise, keep watering to a minimum.
When it comes to fertilising the plants, it is best to wait three weeks after the grapevines have been planted. Then, every summer after the initial planting, you should fertilise the grapevines once more.
Step 10: Prune The Grapevines
One year after you have planted the grapevines, they will need to be pruned. Take away everything except the strongest cane. This should permit the plant to grow up the trellis quickly.
Step 11: Harvest The Grapes
It will take between one and three years for the grapes to grow. When they do, pick some grapes from all over the hillside and taste them. If they are sweet, all of the grapes are ready to be harvested and enjoyed!
Sardinia is a great location to grow grapes because of its warm climate (see more about the climate of Sardina, and how it’s changing, here). It is best to grow grapes on the hillside because the soil is low in nutrients which forces the roots to go further to find them, resulting in bigger and tastier fruit. Choose a south-facing slope for maximum sunlight and the best yield of grapes.