Growing Wine Grapes
Understanding site "capacity": the key to farming grapes successfully in the foothills.
Understanding the capacity of your site is the first step to achieving vine balance, quality grapes and quality wine!
Site capacity is mainly indicated by the soils on your site, and the site microclimate.
- Remember, foothill grape growing sites are highly variable! Each parcel needs to be evaluated for its potential.
- Soils can be deep and nutrient-rich, such as many volcanic soils, or more shallow, (say, at the top of a slope) or/and lacking some key nutrients, such as granitic soils typically low in phosphorus.
- Micoclimates also vary greatly. Depending on elevation, but also slope and aspect can vary on a single parcel. Weather conditions, particularly FROST (shown in the picture right)- which commonly occurs in the foothills both in spring and in fall, is a key consideration when selecting varieties and choosing your vineyard location.
- Calculating the available irrigation water you will have (either well water or delivered), is also an important factor for planning your vineyard.
- An understanding of your grapevine's nutritional status, which can affect berry set and overall health of your vines, is required.
- You'll need the ability to manage certain pests and disease problems, such as powdery mildew, which ALL grape growers must be prepared to sprayfor, in order to produce quality grapes without defects.
- And, the ability to conduct cultural practices, such as grapevine pruning and training, leaf and shoot removal, and canopy management in a timely manner.
- Finally, the ability to market your grape crop and receive a fair price, which requires not only growing an excellent product, but also developing a relationship with a buyer based on communication.