planting your own vineyard

What to consider before planting your own vineyard

Growing grapes and making your own wine can be the most exciting and rewarding work ever. However, you need to be ready for some hard work. If you are still undecided about your career as winegrower this article outlines some bullet points to consider before planting your own vineyard.

Do some research

First thing first: do your own research about growing grapes and wine production. Read as much as you possibly can about the topic. You can find a lot of useful information online and in different books. Since the best information comes from practice, make sure to connect and consult with local winegrowers.

Choose a variety

After the research, it’s time to choose a grape variety. Whether you decide to have one, two or even more varieties in your vineyard is totally up to you. Some winemakers choose varieties base on the taste of the wine they like, others based on the market situation, while some simply opt for the most common variety in the region.

The best thing would be to consider the local climate and geography. One variety can give you a completely different taste when grown on various soils. There are varieties that prefer more dry and warm conditions than others. Choose a grape variety that grows and ripens well in your climate. Also, consider pest resistance of a specific grape variety.

Choose a location

Choosing a location is anything but easy. When selecting the location the first thing you should consider is how much wine do you want to make. Then you need to consider the shape of your vineyard, slope, solar radiation, frost and heat pockets, soil type, water, wind, etc. All of those factors impact on grapes growth and taste.

Photo (by Big Cork vineyards): Vineyard

Prepare the soil

Depending on the soil, and variety that you choose you need to prepare the soil for planting vines. Before you start preparing the soil, make a soil analysis, which will give you an idea about the soil nutrition’s and pH. Vines normally grow best in slightly acid to alkaline soil. Before planting and making trails, you should make sure that soil is loosened and well aligned.

Design the trellis

Vines need trellis after two years, but you should consider making them before you plant them, so that you are not going to destroy and disturb young plants. Different trellising systems exist, probably the most common one is two-wire trellis. You should choose one that suits your climate and varieties the most.

Plant the vines

After you designed trellis, it’s time to plant vines. Choose grafts wisely (strong and virus free), the best thing is to order them from a reliable supplier. You can plant grafts in spring or autumn, when you do make sure that soil is neither too wet nor too dry. Before planting your grafts trim their roots and water it for at least 24 hours. To plant a graft, dig a hole and leave 5-8 cm of graft above the soil surface. You can plant vines by hand or mechanically.

Maintenance of vineyard

In the first few years, the goal is to accelerate the good and healthy development of vines, so that vines grow as quickly as possible to the desired shape, and create large and healthy root system. In case any of the plant collapses, plant a new one. Maintenance of vineyard includes treatment of the vineyard soil between rows and plants, fertilization (to provide necessary nutrition), as well as weed and pest control. In order to get a strong root system remove all flowers and fruits in the first and second year.

These are some points to consider before planting your own vineyard. Above all be patient, plants need some time to develop and produce grapes.

Vineyard Establishment II., Michigan State Uni. Extension
From vines to wines, Jeff Cox
Different manuals for wine-growing


4 responses to “What to consider before planting your own vineyard”

  1. I thought it was interesting when you explained that it is important to consider the shape of a vineyard when you are looking for a location to start it. My sister lives out in the countryside, and she is thinking of starting a vineyard so that she can bring in some extra income for her family. I would imagine that it would be a good idea for them to hire an excavation company once they find a good location to plant.

    • Hello Thomas, yes if she has no experience in vineyard management, it’s definitely the best idea to hire a vineyard management company that can help her out in every aspect of vineyard management. It would be great if she can find some in the local area, to lower the costs and to be sure they know the area and its specifics.

  2. Hello Urska
    Trust you are well?
    I am based in Franschhoek, South Africa! At the moment we are removing our vineyard, due to roll leaf virus. What ground cover or alternative plant would you suggest to plant, for 2 seasons while we eradicate the bug in the soil, as we want to plant vines again.
    Many Thanks
    Gary Rose

    • Hello Gary, did you maybe make any soil test to have an idea of soil organic matter, pH, and basic soil nutrients? If you didn’t make any, then look for covers that increase the soil’s organic matter and nitrogen level, as well as represent a good environment for natural enemies of mealybugs and scale insects as they are transmitters of grapevine leafroll disease. There are hundreds of natural enemies that can attack mealybugs, such as Anagyrus spp., C. perminutus , and L. dactylopii for parasitoids, and Nephus bineavatus (Mulsant), Nephus angustus (Casey) and Nephus quadrivittatus (Mulsant). On the other hand, biological control is severely hampered by the presence of ants, as they provide biological refuges for the mealybugs. Biological controls are a key component of mealybug pest suppression measures in vineyards. So have that in mind also when you will re-plant the vineyard.
      You could use a common blend of cover crops that include mixtures of forage grasses or cereal grains, legumes, and members of the mustard family. You can learn more about vineyard cover crops here:
      In case you also have a problem with nematodes, then use cultivars with good biofumigation potential. I believe in South Africa cultivars such as Nemat, white mustard, Indian mustard, and Canola are commercially available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WELCOME to eVineyard Blog!

On eVineyard blog you can find vineyard management tips, latest precision viticulture technologies, as well as interesting news from the viticulture world.

Recent Posts