Archive: Vineyard Info

Are You Happy with Your Vineyard Training System?

When I mention canopy management in public, people often ask me when I will update my book “Sunlight into Wine”. Recently I have given this idea some more thought. Maybe the presentation could be improved, and some contributors’ comments updated, but the basic principles are unaltered and are still valid. There is not much new in the design nor management of the trellis systems. So, to date, I have not bothered. In this column, I would like to offer some thought about the application of grapevine training system to Midwest viticulture. Much of what I say here will be a direct follow on from my first three columns in this magazine, which dealt with vine balance and trunk diseases. I […]

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Vineyard Tools and Equipment for a Successful Harvest

It’s that time of year again – the time to seriously start preparing for the upcoming harvest. Harvest is the busiest time of the year for vineyards of all shapes and sizes, which is why it’s so important to start planning early to get the right tools and equipment in place. Vineyard Harvest 101 Most North American wineries are fully engaged in their annual grape harvest in the months of August, September, and October, but the prep work to get to this critical stage starts well before then. There are a few different ways to set the grape harvest up for success. Some vineyards swear by traditional hand harvesting, while others have found that mechanical harvesting suits their needs better. […]

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Forklift Purchasing for the Winemaker

Deep down most hands on winemakers praise, cherish and respect their forklift. Perhaps that comes from the days of remembrance when few forklifts existed in the industry. Maximizing the use of the winery forklift is crucial to saving labor, our precious backs and dollars. Try to take the labor savings and re-invest it into focusing on the winemaking. Many thanks are in order to the forklift industry for saving our aching backs with these hugely useful tools. When searching to acquire a forklift, one must look at many factors before engaging the purchase, such as: Fuel choice, size, number of wheels, tire size and material, load capacity/size, lift height needed, fork length, options (tilt, side shift, rotating head) and floor […]

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H2-A Visa Program Offers Vintners Legal Options (Update)

The July-August 2017 issue of Grapevine included an article by me about the H-2A Guestworker Visa program and how it might be used as a source of labor for vintners. In this update I’m going to talk about a couple of specific additional ways H-2A can help vintners, especially vintners who feel they are too small to support an H-2A workforce of their own. The first concept I want to talk about is H-2A Joint Employer Contracts. In this model, two or more employers can file jointly on a single H-2A contract. This allows them to share the up-front costs, share housing AND share workers. The single most important caveat is that you need to know that any other vintner […]

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The Application of Next Generation Sequencing Technology on Disease Diagnostics in the Vineyard

There are a number of laboratories that are dedicated to testing grapevines for the presence of vineyard disease causing agents (plant pathogens). Each of these laboratories use different methods for detection of bacteria, fungi, or viruses that may be present in the vineyard or planting material. It can be confusing to the grower and vineyard managers to decide which laboratory to work with. Determining what are the most appropriate methods for the detection of specific pathogens and the interpretation of the results can even be more confusing. At the time, there is no specific guidelines for grapevine pathogen testing giving the laboratories the freedom to develop their own testing and sampling methods. In this article I will provide an update […]

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Best Practices for Pruning in the Vineyard

In most parts of the U.S., vineyard pruning begins in February and March, depending on how warm the weather is that given year. By this time, many vineyards have a good start on this essential and time-consuming task or have even wrapped up with the trimming to move on to other spring maintenance. This is an ideal time to look back on lessons learned and make improvements in the pruning process to either finish the job or to plan for next year. The Basics of Pruning The basic idea behind pruning is to eliminate excess plant growth from the year before so the vines can channel their energy into growing for the new year. Grapevines produce fruit on wood that’s […]

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Pruning in the vineyard – Considerations for Optimal Vine Health

Training Systems in the Vineyard There are two main training systems that are used in the vineyard: Cane pruning also known as Guyot training: A long one-year old cane is trained annually from the head of the vine along the fruiting wire. In high quality production areas one or two canes are trained to produce grapes the following year. The present year fruiting cane(s) must be removed completely during pruning. A disadvantage of cane pruning is that it requires skilled shoot positioning and leaf removal to avoid microclimates that favor foliar and fruit fungal infection. However, since the wood is renewed in a yearly basis this type of system is less prone to become infected with fungal trunk pathogens . […]

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Growers Have Choices in Trellising

A trellis is the backbone of a vineyard, but it’s hardly a one-type-suits all structure, experts say. They note picking the right system is crucial, and a grower has to consider numerous factors in choosing one. There are a lot of boxes to be checked before deciding on a system – labor, climate, costs and even grape variety among them. The trellis, after all, is the framework that keeps weighty vines suspended and shows them ample sun. Which Way Should a Grower Go? “It often depends where you are,” said Michael Schmidt, President of Spec Trellising, an Ivyland, Pennsylvania-based trellis and equipment supplier. A single-wire, or cordon, system is the most cost-friendly format. Growers erect end posts extending five to […]

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BALANCED VINES MAKE BALANCED WINES….DON’T THEY?

Balanced vines make balanced wines….one often hears this statement, even written by wine judges, but how many growers know what a balanced vine looks like. I suppose most, but not everyone knows how to simply measure it, and how to manage vineyards to achieve balance. Here I want to define vine balance, to talk about the symptoms or appearance of out of balance vines, and to discuss management strategies to achieve balanced wines. Background to Vine Balance A vine consists of a woody framework (trunk, head, cordons, roots etc), a shoot system with leaves, fruit, tendrils etc, all connected to a root system, consisting of thick structural roots and thin feeder roots. We usually think of roots from the viewpoint […]

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Guidelines for Planting a Healthy Vineyard

This time of the year, once the hectic harvest tasks have been completed is when growers should start planning new vineyard development projects. In the winter, as soon as dormancy starts, nurseries will collect cuttings from rootstock and scion varieties that will be grafted in the spring. Most nurseries in California propagate and grow material from the California Certification and Registration (R&C) program. This R&C program was revised in 2010 to include the specific testing of pathogens (disease causing agents such as Xylella fastidiosa, Agrobacterium vitis, and certain viruses) rather than diseases. After the discovery of Grapevine red blotch virus, the regulations were revised once more in 2016 to include the exclusion of this detrimental virus in the certification program. […]

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