Pruning Back Time

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The article below was written by Gates County Extension Master Gardener℠ Cynthia Wagoner. Check out more of Cynthia’s articles online.

Pruning Back Time: Viticulture at the Newbold-White House 

Four and a half rows……Since 2007, the vineyard at the Newbold-White House, circa 1730, located in historic Hertford, North Carolina, has been taking shape starting out on 1/3 of an acre, and growing over the years to one full acre. Thirty-Seven muscadine vines of the Carlos variety were planted first. Reds and whites stand at attention waiting for someone to find them, take them home and make wine, jelly, juice or soap. 

Micki Levine and Marjorie Rayburn, both Master Gardeners, are currently the co-directors of this project, not only doing manual labor but spending time instructing the volunteers. Volunteers come every season of the year to prune, plant, and harvest the grapes, which are for sale in late August and early September. 

The muscadine is a native American grape, Vitis rotundifolia, found primarily in the southeastern part of the United States. Scuppernongs are a variety of muscadine; therefore, all scuppernongs are muscadines; however, not all muscadines are scuppernongs. 

Early description of the land when the Saunders family purchased the property includes “the vineyard” with the soil being perfect for growing grapes. There is a walking trail that leads to the Perquimans River where there is a dock offering folks to kayak or canoe to the historic site.

A chart of grape characteristics and their characteristics.

Propagating grapes

Three different methods of propagation are listed below: 

  • Using water bottles: 1. Wash and dry a recycled water bottle (16 oz.) Cut the bottom off. Take off the lid. With hole punch, punch out two small holes on the bottom end (holes should be opposite each other). 2. Cut 18” of string and tie the ends to the punched holes. 3. Find a long vine on your existing grape arbor. Take the bottle and insert this long vine into the bottle. 4. Pull the vine all the way through the bottle. Strip the vine of its leaves. 5. Tie the string to existing arbor for support. (See photo). 6. Take some moist potting soil and fill the bottle. Then, just wait. Leave until the fall and cut off. The bottle should be filled with roots. Cut the bottle in half, and you will have two plants. 
  • Brick method: Another method is less labor intensive. Simply find a long vine that comes off the base. Scratch some dirt close by, remove leaves from the vine and place on the dirt. Put a brick on top of the vine, and wait for roots to grow. 
  • Flower Pot Method: Similar to above, except that you put the vine with the leaves removed into a flower pot, weight down, and wait for the roots to grow. 

How to eat muscadine grapes according Marjorie: Grab the grape with the stem scar (where the stem, or peduncle attaches to the grape) at your mouth. Squeeze the grape skin so the pulp goes into your mouth. Enjoy the sweetness and flavor. Swallow the pulp whole or manipulate in your mouth and spit the seeds out, then swallow the grape pulp. The grape specialist from Arkansas says this is not to be done in polite company! 

The article above was written by Gates County Extension Master Gardener Cynthia Wagoner. Check out more of Cynthia’s articles online.