More on Planting a Vineyard
On establishing your site’s capacity for ripening grapes its important to take time to consider what you want from your vineyard. Some owners want to grow grapes solely for making their own wines (Producer), whereas others choose to grow grapes for sale, either under contract or on the open market (Grower). Whichever path you choose it’s important to have a plan on how you intend to manage your vineyard and make it profitable.
Conventional / Sustainable / Organic / Bio-Dynamic
All vineyard owners have an opinion on how best to grow grapes and it’s important that you are comfortable with the method of farming you wish to carryout. An organic vineyard will most likely be setup differently to a conventional one. All methods have their positive and negative traits, but all have their place in viticulture. I believe that no grower, conventional or otherwise wants to destroy the environment they live and work in and in-fact we should do our best to learn and compare the techniques and practices adopted by one another to continue improving upon our productivity, quality and environmental impact.
In winemaking we want to try and keep variables to a minimum, therefore when planting a vineyard, we use clones (cuttings from an existing grapevine) grafted onto rootstock, rather than germinating seeds, which naturally produce genetic differences as part of evolutionary progression. Clonal characteristics such as bunch weight, berry size and productivity as well as flavour profile, sugar accumulation and rot susceptibility are some of the variations available when choosing a clone, and although variety specific there could be dozens to choose from. When selecting a clone, it is important to consider the environmental features and ripening capacity of your site as well as the wine styles you hope to make.
Selecting the correct varieties, clones and rootstocks for a site is incredibly important and the ramifications if you get it wrong can be costly. Also be aware that some clones are not readily available and need to be ordered 18 months in advance to ensure they’re on the rootstock of choice. This can be frustrating but it is better to delay planting for a year instead of taking whatever vines are available.