Nelly Berry Wine | Sonya Lira Photography

We live in Brazoria County, Texas and our dirt is “Texas Gumbo”.

The dirt is a dark black color and quite sticky. It has been used like clay for art projects; it fires in the kilns just fine according to a local junior college who tried it. All I know is that it sticks to your shovel and it is like gum on your shoe when trying to get it off. We have beautiful flower beds, but the truth be known, we hauled in all of the dirt for those beds and did not use the underlying gumbo.

We decided about three years ago that we wanted to plant some grapes; I found several types of grapes to try. We had no idea what would do well in this area, we just wanted to plant different kinds and see if any would work out. We hauled in more dirt for this project, mixing in quite a bit of mulch so the grapes could drain well but stay moist at the same time. Our grapes are mostly wine grapes which are different from the kind we eat. Wine grapes have a much thicker skin and seem to take longer to ripen. They are somewhat bitter-sweet to eat.

Last year was our best year yet, I picked about four Gallons of grapes. I let another two gallons go bad on the vine because I got tired of messing with them.

The birds do not seem to bother the grapes much, I think it is because of the way the arbor is designed. It makes it hard for them to get to the grapes because it is made like a tunnel.

The first picture is of our grape arbor. It is about twelve-foot wide by forty-foot long. Its pretty nice looking in the spring because the leaves and grapes are traveling across the arch to the other side. We  have grapes planted on both sides, but one side does better than the other. My husband actually rooted some new plants last year from our grapes. All grapes start off green and then some turn purple, but some grapes are just green. We have both kinds of grapes.

We have made wine three times, but we do not sell it, we just like giving it away. I do not care for wine at all and my husband will drink maybe three glasses a year.

We named our wine “Nelly Berry Wine” after our youngest daughter who was the one who wanted to start making wine in the first place. Her name is Jeanelle we have called her Nelly or Nell on and off at different times in her life. The first wine we made was out of mulberries off of our mulberry trees.

Grapes are fun to watch grow and they can cover an arbor quickly. Fruiting takes time the older the vines are the more the grapes they will produce.

Grapes Sonya Lira Photography

9 thoughts on “Nelly Berry Wine | Sonya Lira Photography

  1. Thanks. They were not that hard to grow once we put in good dirt. The thing about wine grapes is you have to keep racking them until the wine is clear of sediment. Grapes seem to be much worse than mulberries or blackberries. It can take months to accomplish this but the wine only stinks when fermenting it..

    • I think its to much clay. A lot of people say mix in sand, compost and fertilizer. We have so many beds it was just easier to get dump truck loads of top soil LOL.
      Our garden was good top soil but something changed in it after our big drought and now its not good anymore. Were thinking we might just plant domestic blackberries in that spot.

  2. We are looking forward to adding grapes to our orchard this year. Nice to see you’re doing it already so successfully! Sweet story about its name too.

    PS — I know the secret in turning Texas gumbo into black gold without buying a truck load of dirt. Hint: people put it to the curb (

  3. We bought a load of top soil and mixed that in with the gumbo and put mulch on top. The next year we added in some sand and more mulch. I think there doing better like this in raised beds instead of directly in the ground. Were hoping to plant some more domestic black berries this year.

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