Author: Lamar Engel
How to Plant a Vineyard in Seven Simple Steps
When determining whether or not a plot of land and its soil are properly suited for vineyards, it is important to achieve a certain balance between the soil, air, and water...
Step One: Soil Sample & Terroir Check
Soil combinations are important when choosing specific types of varietals to be planted. Ideal soil situations allow the vine to explore the terra and retain a reasonable amount of water without becoming over saturated. Proper drainage is key to growing vines as the balance of oxygen and water play such a vital role in early vine development. Taking a soil sample to be analyzed is the most important step in beginning a vineyard, and will save lots of money in return. Not knowing what kind of soil lies beneath the vine, will likely result in a poor yield, and will require replanting or re-grafting at some point within the next 8 years.
Checking the terroir includes studying the micro and macroclimates within the area that the vineyard is planted in. Is it shaded? Is it a hillside? What wildlife is in the area? Are their coastal influences? Is the vineyard above or below the fog line? These are all questions to be determined for varietal choosing, but trellising and posting the vine spacing are also equally important.
Step Two: Choose the Varietal
After receiving the information of soil series and terroir arrangement, visit a certified vineyard nursery to pick out your rootstock plants. Make sure to do plenty of research before purchasing, and seek information from the nurseries as they can be a great resource too. Some varietals do better in hotter conditions while others will lean on varying temperatures and soil conditions.
Step Three: Prepare the Soil
Duration: 1 week
Begin by breaking down the tightly compacted soil. Then utilizing an excavator or disc machine, turn and mix the soil vigorously. Allow for the oxygen to naturally condition the unearthed soil. Next add compost and mix in.
Step Four: Level the Ground
Duration: 2 weeks
Using a disc and a grader, refine the terrain and level the ground. This is done to make tractor work in the vineyard easier and aids in the future steps for setting up trellising systems. This also adds to the aesthetics, and keeps the appearance clean, uniformed, and organized.
Step Five: Laying the Grid
Duration: 1 week
Plan the spacing and positioning of the end posts, line posts, and training stakes for the physical structure of the vineyard.
Choose thicker wood from a trusted source. These will be the ‘bookends’ for the vineyard line as there are only two.
Used to train the new vines as well as hold the catch wires straight across the row.
The remaining vines are trained along these shorter posts located between the line posts. It will be important to mark spacing for these guided training posts as some vines will burst upwards faster than others so making ample availability for these will be necessary.
Step Six: Planting
Duration: 1 week
Depending on the time of year, determine whether to use green potted plants or dormant vines. Cooler weather will mean using dormant vines as the vine will then have time to adjust to its new home. Dig and plant at the location of the training stakes and various line posts until all cines are successfully planted. It is important to add compost in each hole and individual plant protectors that can be purchased at a nursery. Many people prefer cutting milk carton boxes as an alternative method.
Step Seven: Vineyard Maintenance
Maintain the new vineyard in accordance to the design and farming methods that were used. By the third crop season, fruit will begin to maturity making the grapes ripe for wine production.