New Vineyard Timeline · 2-years Pre-plant
Many a viticulture extension associate will tell you that, more often than not, people interested in growing grapes will call and ask for beginner's advice a mere couple of months before planting the first vine. Just as with any other business, a tremendous amount of consideration and planning needs to go into planting and managing a wine grape vineyard. This book - 2 Years Prior to Planting - is aimed to provide general information on planning steps prior to planting the first vine. Here, we outline a business plan as an absolute must; necessary equipment - depending on the size of the operation; and the most important facet of vineyard planning - site selection. With a perfect, or even a nearly perfect site, a vineyard manager can save a lot of money and grief in future vineyard issues.
Starting the vineyard planning process at least 2 years ahead of time will allow time for soil testing and preparation to ensure optimal soil conditions prior to vine planting. Any experienced grower will attest to the fact that making significant adjustments to soil and irrigation once a vineyard is planted is trickier due to the physical barriers of the posts and wires. So, start your vineyard business by mitigating risks early and save yourself money and frustration in the long run by:
1) developing a solid business plan, complete with an exit strategy and succession plan;
2) selecting an optimal site for grape production;
3) planting varieties that will thrive at your site.
Whether you're new to agriculture, or simply new to grape growing, there are several basic pieces of equipment for which you will need to budget ahead of time. Of course, buying all this equipment will put you well into the red within the first couple of years of planning. How can you keep some of these costs under control?Rent equipment or hire custom work - such as laser planting or mechanical harvestingForm a cooperative with local growers to share the costs... read more
Developing a Business Plan
It is often said that a business plan is like a road map that you will use to guide the future success of your business. A business plan should be completed two years prior to putting the first vine in the ground. This will allow you to properly present your business, or business idea, to loan officers, investors, or grant opportunities and to limit the number of "detours" you will experience along the way. Developing a business plan is not as difficult as you would... read more
Vineyards are a long-term investment. Choosing an appropriate site for your vineyard is the single most important factor determining its economic success or failure. Success depends on choosing a site with appropriate climate, topography and soil characteristics. New York's variable climate, topography and soils limit where grapes can be grown, and what varieties are suitable for which sites. A detailed discussion of factors affecting site suitability can be found... read more
Replanting Existing Vineyard Sites
Are there any special considerations for tearing out an old vineyard and planting a new one?Studies have shown that replanting grapevines in soil previously planted to grapes tend not to thrive, or they rapidly decline over time. Although many factors have been determined to cause this lack of vigor, it is important to remember that to reduce the likelihood of these problems, growers may need to pull out the existing vines and allow the land to lie fallow - with a cover... read more
Review Soil Maps
Like gardening in your backyard, soil composition and structure are important in wine grape production. Luckily, soil maps are easy to access, whether through the USDA Web Soil Survey, or books from your local extension office. (See following 3 images below).figure 1: soil surveyGravelly, well-drained soil is ideal in grape production, because grapevine roots do not want to be submerged in water. On the flip side, too-well-drained soil can create an issue with nutrition, as... read more
Who will buy your grapes and what kinds do they want? Your market decisions are some of the most important ones in this business. Many factors come into consideration when you are trying to decide what varieties to plant in your vineyard. For example, if you are located in a region that has a glut of a particular variety, then, obviously, you don't want to plant or market that variety. The best option is to begin with small plantings of one to five varieties, ideally not... read more