How to Create an At-Home Wine Sensory Garden
When we began inviting campers to Pianetta for overnight stays in 2016, we knew they'd love the winery slumber parties. With 95 beautiful acres of vineyards and nature nestled into our scenic valley, you could hardly ask for a more beautiful backdrop.
Many guests who curled up with a glass of locally produced wine next to a cozy campfire have asked us how to duplicate the experience at home. So, here’s a basic guide to create an at-home wine sensory garden for the days and nights you can’t spend out here with us.
Location, Location, Location
You don’t have to live in California to make your own wine sensory garden, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The quality of life in this state ranks high, in part because of our exceptional growing climate. Our weather is mild enough for year-round camping, but also for perennial porch sitting, picnics, and cookouts.
If you’re lucky enough to be in California, then you can create an environment suited for enjoyment year-round. If not, you may want to focus on making the most of your mild months.
Get Grapevines in the Ground
It wouldn’t be a sensory wine garden without grapes. Regardless of your location, grapes can grow pretty much anywhere in the continental United States.
Decide whether you want to grow wine or table grapes, then find a variety that's compatible with your zone, and start planting. Locate a sunny spot with good soil and start there, but not until you’ve planned out your trellis system.
Install a Trellis Structure
Grapevines need to climb, and that’s perfect, because people need shade in the heat of the day.
Perhaps you're considering a simple trellis wire along an existing patio structure. Or maybe you prefer an elaborate pergola dedicated to your vines. Either way, you’ll want to install it before you plant the vines.
Cultivate a Cozy Atmosphere
The key to a cozy garden where you'll want to spend time? Seating. Adequate, comfortable seating is what makes the difference between a garden that is nice to visit and a garden that you never want to leave.
The seating options are endless, but make sure the style, color, and materials fit in with your overall look. A rustic garden space with natural stone and earth tones may not be the best spot for colorful, molded plastic chairs.
Try to create a look and feel that's inviting, comfortable, and engaging. And don’t forget to include a table and chairs tucked into a cozy nook for dining al fresco! A morning cup of coffee or a midday snack is always better enjoyed outside.
Add Light and Warmth
From tealight candles in jam jars to fancy solar-powered outdoor lights, illuminating your garden makes it feel welcoming and accessible... even at night.
Uneven paths are always easier to navigate when there are a few lights to lead the way, and a bit of soft lighting sets a romantic, ambient mood. A firepit gives both light and warmth on chilly nights and offers a focal point for people to gather around in the evening.
Engage all Your Senses
To create a true sensory garden, you need to stimulate as many senses as possible.
Plant sweet-smelling flowering plants or pungent herbs to scent the air. Mint and thyme planted along pathways release delicate aromas when you walk by.
Wind chimes and fountains can add an element of sound that soothes garden visitors.
An herb garden can also be a convenient source of flavor, used to garnish dishes or muddled into drinks. Be creative and develop a space that is uniquely you.
There's no substitute for a night spent glamping at the vineyard, but with a little creativity and your own backyard, you can certainly cultivate your own version of a sensory wine garden. Uncork a delicious bottle of Pianetta red, and you can transport yourself back to our little slice of heaven from your own garden.
Francesca Singer holds both a degree in landscape architecture from Ball State University and a student award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. After running an Austin, Texas-based design-build firm focused on sustainable and edible landscapes, she transitioned to organic farming. She now lives in southern France where she gardens extensively and writes about landscape gardening and food cultivation.