As they say…..to make a small fortune in the wine business you have to start with a large fortune. This is so true when you start with bare land. We met with Greg Adams today to plan our 1.1-1.3 acre vineyard. Right now the normal spacing for Pinot Noir is 7’ x 5’. 7’ is so tractors can go down the rows and make it easier for cultivation. 6’ can be done with small tractors but when you get to 5’ or even 3 1/2 feet, then you either need to use ATV’s or very special equipment. We have opted for 5’ rows as we have a very small piece of land. The space between rows allows you to add vines without adding much cost. Studies have shown that smaller spacing is better to allow the vines to go down for water but much less than 3 1/2 feet there is not much benefit. Again, we have opted for small spacing at 3 1/2 feet.
The rule of thumb is that for very foot below 7’ you add 10% in cost and for every foot below 5’ you add 5% in cost for vines. The benefit for the grape harvest is not linear but you can expect a better quality grape since you are stressing them with tight spacing.
Clone selection for us is to put in a variety that will fit our land with shading on the south end of the plot. We have chosen 3309 rootstock with 115 and Pommard Pinot. 115 is lighter and fruiter and Pommard gives the Pinot body.
We hope with tight spacing, good rootstock and clones and tender loving care that the wines will come out world class.
Lastly, we are looking at orientation in the field. In an ideal world you should plant north/south so that the sun will hit both sides of the rows. We would rather plant east/west for the view from the house…..so we will see who wins.
We went to our first small wine growers meeting today. This is a meeting of growers in the Sebastopol/Santa Rosa area that grow grapes on 1-5 acres of land. As you might imagine this is a challenge to make money on small plots of land. The benefit is that the grapes get better care on small lots and thus are usually sold for a higher per ton price.
In this meeting we went over the different aspects of vineyard mangement and the associated costs. Basically you can most everything your self if you like or for a fully tractor ready site it will cost around $6k/acre for conventionally grown and $9K/acre for organically grown grapes. Believe it or not, most of the differences are with the weed and grass control.
Today we selected a vineyard consultant. We went back and forth whether to do this but it came down to the fact that with Greg we can as much or as little as we want in the vineyard for installation. With the others it was a turnkey operation. Greg is a great person and we are looking forward to a great relationship with him over the next year. Below are his credentials. In addition to this he is also the consultant at Lynmar Winery.
• Viticultural Consultant at Beyond the Vine (Sole Proprietorship)
• Director of Vineyard Operations at Flowers Vineyard & Winery
• Masters in Vitaculture, University of California, Davis
Greg Adams’s Summary
Experienced Viticulturist focused on Ultra Premium winegrape production. Passionate about developing world class vineyards in challenging locations. Assisting my clients with twenty years of vineyard design and management knowledge. Committed to Sustainable, Organic and Bio-Dynamic management practices. Re-creating the lost art of the Polycultural Vineyard Environment.
Greg Adams’s Specialties:
Specializing in Environmentally sound Vineyard Development Practices, Quality Oriented Organic Vineyard Management Methods, Vineyard Site Evaluation and Winery/Grower Liason Services.