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.
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
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