Archive: Vineyard Info

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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Basics of Biodynamic Agriculture

At first glance, biodynamic farming can come across as a bit…odd. Sure, you have to bury cow’s horns filled with fermented cow dung, preferably from a lactating cow (BD 500), 18 inches below the surface during the cooler months. And, of course, you have to bury finely ground quartz crystals (BD 501) in the cow’s horns during the hot time of the year to prepare the soil. Don’t you worry, though, plenty of companies will cater to your needs! Fortunately, biodynamics is much more than that. It’s about taking land that isn’t healthy and infusing it with energy and life force. It’s about composting and strengthening the soil. After all, the word biodynamic derives from the Greek bios (life) and […]

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The Fall Colors in the Vineyard – an Indication of Health Issues

This time of the year you probably heard, seen, or read that the fall season is the best time to visit the vineyards because of the wonderful colors! Just Google “fall in the vineyards” and click on images and you will see a display of photographs (many of them are stock photos that can be purchased for marketing purposes) with an infinite palette of red, purple, orange, and yellow colors. As a grapevine disease specialist, I am heartbroken to hear this. That is because the bright colors in the grapevine foliage are usually an indication that something is wrong in the vineyard. Not beautiful at all! Throughout my career, I have been invited to do presentations at grower’s meetings in […]

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Bottling Day The Easy Way:

              Mobile Bottlers Lead Outsourced Wine Packaging Needs To bottle or not to bottle? That may be the question, but it’s less about whether or not to do so and more about how to do it. With more vineyards needing to decrease overhead while producing smaller quantities, the costs associated with having an in-house bottling line have prompted many vintners—small and large alike—to turn to outside mobile bottlers. These portable bottling lines are typically housed inside trucks of various sizes – from full-sized tractor trailers to smaller box trucks capable of navigating winding roads to off-the-beaten-path vineyards – and deliver wine packaging options that are cost-saving and convenient. “The standard has really changed,” notes […]

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The Heat is On: Grape Growers Look for New Answers to an Old Problem

Mark Seifert says he has found a way to save a lot of cold cash by applying heat to his vineyards. Agrothermal Systems, based in Napa, California, has pioneered the use of Thermaculture treatment services, a new methodology for managing crops through the application of heat with substantial, proven results, the company said. Applied to plants by their trademarked Agrotherm XT, a tractor pulled machine, the heat treatment can by applied at various stages throughout the growing cycle. Seifert, vineyard manager of Foley Family Wines and Sebastiani Vineyards in Sonoma, California, has found success in Thermaculture trials at two of his vineyards. The results: fewer pests and more grapes at a lower cost. “We measured increased numbers of berries per […]

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Grapevine Graft Transmissible Fungal Trunk Diseases

Grapevines are susceptible to disease causing agents (pathogens) that affect the longevity and productivity of the vineyard. My expertise is on grapevine graft-transmissible diseases and the pathogens that cause them. The only way to avoid diseases in the vineyard is to prevent the introduction of pathogens in the first place. More often than not, growers fail to take this simple advice: we heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Currently there is no cure for graft-transmissible diseases once these are established in the vineyard. This means that special care selecting planting material must be used prior to developing a new vineyard block. This is the most important task during vineyard development but I find […]

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Winery Operators Advised to Ask Tough Questions Before Expanding

With the turn of another year, and winery-vineyard operations pondering possible means to expand, Marnelle Durrett says she can testify that the right growth plans can pay big dividends. Whether what has worked for her family’s Kiepersol Vineyards & Winery near Tyler, Texas, would work for all others is another question, she says. The key to growth at Kiepersol has been controlling – even eliminating – debt, said Durrett, who with her sister, Velmay Power, now run the family business their late father started in 1998. “Growing within our means comes from the culture of not wanting to create debt,” she said. “When you don’t create debt in business, ingenuity comes into play.” It’s natural to want to expand, find […]

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Drones in the Vineyard: Uses, Benefits, Concerns & Key Players

Unpredictable weather conditions and the effects of climate change are causing vineyards to look to technology to solve their biggest problems. Interestingly, one of the most promising technological solutions that has emerged for vineyards today is drones. These aerial devices already play a role in military operations and retail package delivery. Could they revolutionize the wine industry as well? By definition, drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that fly autonomously or by remote control. In addition to military and commercial drones, hobbyist drones have become more affordable and accessible to the general public. The purpose of this article is to explore the uses of drones in vineyards and how drone technology may help vineyards thrive. We’ll also highlight a few technology […]

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The 2016 U.S. Vineyard Harvest Review

And that’s a wrap! By now, all vineyards across the country have finished harvesting except for ice wine. States from coast to coast have been reporting about their vineyards’ harvests for 2016, and the results have been overwhelmingly optimistic. In this article, we highlight the harvests in a few key wine-producing regions in the U.S. and take a look at how the 2016 harvest compared to previous years and the factors that came into play this year. In anticipation of the new year ahead, we’ll also look at estimates for wine production and quality for 2017. California Harvest for 2016 After a pretty normal growing season, California vineyards saw an early winegrape harvest this year. According to the California Department […]

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Advancement in Diagnostic Technologies for Plant Pests and What This Means for Vineyard Disease Management

As a viticulturist, you have at some point in your career noticed undesirable qualities, such as decreased yield or peculiar sugar content, within your vineyard. In some cases these characteristics are caused by environmental factors like frost damage, or a human error resulting in pesticide damage. In other cases a plant pathogen could be the underlying cause of your crops diminished quality. Plant pathogens are classified into at least five groups including fungi, bacteria, viruses, viroids, and phytoplasmas. Unfortunately, there are organisms belonging to each of these groups that can quickly wreak havoc on all the blood, sweat, tears and capital you have invested in hope of producing a quality crop. Controlling plant pathogens isn’t always the most straightforward activity. […]

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