Behind the Scenes: What It Takes to Maintain a Vineyard

Established vineyards are healthy and produce an abundance of plump, juicy grapes that, for anyone with a passion for fine wine, is a beautiful sight to see. However, while taking a tour of a vineyard may inspire you to try your hand at growing your own crops and opening a winery, what you don’t see is the endless hours of care it takes to produce the final product.

Strong Roots, Preserved Nutrients

It takes approximately three years to yield a crop from the vines that you can use for making wine. And, in order to guarantee that the crops produced are healthy and plentiful, the care process starts in the first year. During this time, you need to have strong root development to have an ample supply of nutrients for growth in the coming years. For this reason, people who work in vineyards take care to remove all of the clusters that appear on the vines immediately, to preserve the plant-contained nutrients for the future. Once the plant reaches maturity, around the third year, workers carefully prune, leaving just a small amount of canes to allow the grapes to ripen in the sun.

Vine Management

Grapes need sunlight to grow to their full potential. And, because of this, they do everything they can to find direct rays of sunshine, even if it means grappling a tree. For a home garden, you can use a trellis system that will allow the vines to grow upward while still keeping them in a controlled and established environment.

Pests and Your Vines

Pests can wreak havoc on your crops and cause you to lose much of it before the picking season. For instance, Gophers enjoy eating the roots and vines that are still in their earlier years of development, and are not yet mature, so they are easier to destroy. Gophers are often common in desirable wine regions of the country. A sure way to identify if you have these pests in your vineyard is to check the fallen plants to see if their roots are still intact. If not, you more than likely have gophers.

The good news is now that you know which pest is causing you grief, you can contact an organic pest control, to eliminate them. Farmers often take matters into their own hands and place owl-boxes in the trees located in the vineyard to trap them. Since gophers are not the only ones with an interest in your vines, fences and traps with bait can also prove beneficial in preserving them.

Amount of Water

The part of the country you live in will determine the amount of water you need to produce a good crop of grapes. There are many different types of soil, and weather conditions can play a role in the amount of water required. The best way to establish the amount of water you need for your vines is to water them so that they remain moist, not dry, without leaving excessive water around the plants that puddles. It’s also important to allow the roots to use all of the water and dry out prior to the next application. The reason for this is to let the roots grow deeper in search of additional water. Professionals also reduce the amounts of water they give the vines during the late summer/early fall months to allow the plant to become dormant prior to the first frost.

Controlling Weeds

During the first couple of years of growth, vines and weeds compete to reach the sun’s rays, the water supply and nutrients. Unfortunately, this is a critical time for maintaining your plants life as the roots are pretty much still just below the ground surface and not deep enough to survive without them. Many farmers who grow vines use the old-fashioned and successful method of mowing in between the crops and then use the mulch produced to insulate the plants to keep them moist and the soil around them rich in nutrients. It’s also necessary to keep the weeds away from the vines, especially during the first few years to eliminate the competition that can cost you crops.

Keeping them Healthy

During the initial year of development, it’s also necessary to use fertilizer to assist with essential nutrients such as nitrogen. You can use a fertilizer with a petroleum base or one that’s organic. Either one will benefit plant growth and allow them to flourish, grow faster and sustain a healthy green color. You can apply the fertilizer directly onto the vines or use fertilizer packs and place them under the vine roots during the planting process.

Organic Wineries

Organic wineries strive even harder to maintain their vineyards in accordance with organic farming regulations. This means that they use no chemical herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. They really have to ‘be one’ with the vineyard in order to make it work with them and not against them.

You can find certified organic wines in any of your favorite wine shops.

It takes time, patience, and work to create your own vineyard. However, if you’re dedicated and keep at it, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be successful!