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ZHill

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This is my first post here on this forums, and I see there's already an active thread about trellis design right now, but I have a few questions of my own if people don't mind answering them.

So a little bit of a background. My family has (what used to be) a farm consisting of 120 acres here in Texas, which falls under the Hill Country region / Region 5. We've made wine from the wild Mustang grapes that grow on the property since I was a child, but starting a commercial vineyard was never something that had ever crossed my mind. This year I had plans to fix all of the perimeter fences, and I began work on a basic business plan for a cattle operation, until my dad started picking wild grapes. Then the question hit me: just how hard is it to start an operate a commercial vineyard? And I've now taken tours of 2 vineyards in my area, but they haven't been so kind as to divulge any secrets. Both vineyards use VSP trellis systems. Other than that, no one really wanted to answer any questions pertaining to the profitability of the business, other than telling me what kind of grapes grew well in the area and tossing me a sales pitch for a local wine. (These were winery / vineyard operations.)

I've made some phone calls to wineries, visited my local department of agriculture, rummaged around online for as much information as I could get, and now I have a stack of about 300 pages sitting here on my desk that I've been going through. --- Okay!

The 10-acre plot that I am working with has an approximate 5 to 6-degree slope going from east to west, good drainage all around, and at the least, produces some extremely large Mustang grape vines around the perimeter fence. This plot is already sprayed yearly with 2-4D, and is the easiest portion of the property to work with. There is also a spring-fed pond and a well nearby, which I intend to tap both for means of irrigation (if the law allows. I haven't checked into my local water right laws yet).

I would like to do an experiment with trellis systems on approximately 1/4 of an acre with (10) 100' rows, with a 12' spacing between rows so that my tractor & shredder can fit between the rows. Maintaining this space with a riding lawn mower, especially with the possibility that I might go full-scale with this project in the future, seemed redundant. --- When I was looking at designs for the materials, I decided that high-tensile fencing was my best option, and decided to go with 12.5 gauge galvanized wire. I'm familiar with barbed wire fences, but high-tensile, much less high-tensile trellis systems, I am not. If this experiment goes well, then I am going to consider the costs of funding a full-size operation and determine if it's worth it or not to go beyond this stage. If I don't, well then I just set up one heck of a nice sized 'backyard' vineyard, and I'll plant some vines anyway.

For 1/4 an acre, I'm estimating that I can get away with an initial investment of $1500 for trellis & fencing materials, but I'm not quite sure on some of the numbers, so I have a few questions for you guys.

1. Can I use the standard studded T-Post to suspend my high-tensile wire?
I will still be using wooden posts on the ends, and for the brace posts.

2. How far apart would I need to space my suspension posts for 100 foot rows?

3. Do I need more than 1 brace post / tension point for 100 ft of trellis?

3. Can I use rotary tensioners (the circular ones used for hotwire fences) to keep my wire tight?

4. How many lines do I run? I've noticed that VSP systems vary. I plan on using 4 wires. Is 4 wires sufficient, or is this # dependent on the variety of grape(s) that I intend to grow?

5. Should my rows face East/West or North/South? And why?
 
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ZHill

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I wanted to add, to quote an article: "House Bill 1514 (Texas) states: "A wine is entitled to an appellation of origin indicating the wine's origin is this state or a geographical subdivision of this state only if: 100 percent of the wine's volume is derived from fermented juice of grapes or other fruit grown in this state; and the wine is fully produced and finished in this state." If passed as written, the bill will be effective as of Sept. 1, 2017. It's currently scheduled for a public hearing on April 24."

Our price per ton here in Texas for many varieties lingers between $1500-2000 per ton. Since the introduction of this Bill, I'm assuming that if it passes (did it pass, does anyone know?) the PPT might actually increase? --- I was rather curious how vineyards in California manage to make money selling product for less than $1000 per ton, sometimes as low as $300 to $400 per ton, especially after operating expenses and labor costs are factored in. Is the tonnage per acre -that- much more in California? I realize weight is dependent on variety, soil quality, water, and weather, but some of this information leaves me extremely confused. --- How do commercial vineyards in California make money with such low prices. And to add, some websites are claiming that a variety like Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $300 per ton on the low end and $6000 on the high end? ... How does -that- work?

The material that I've been reading is conflicting at times as well. For many varieties the USDA 2015 report is claiming that the average tonnage per acre to be around 3 in my region, when in other regions for the same variety the tonnage can get as high as 5, maybe more. I know that because my spacing will be wider between rows I wouldn't have as much production as I could have on my land, but I also have to wonder if other vineyards in Texas are doing the same thing as I am ; introducing broader spacing between rows ; and this contributes to lower tonnage per acre? How does the USDA collect their information for tonnage per acre of cultivated vineyard? Their website doesn't say. The business plan projections I've found from Texas Tech University is projecting 5 tons per acre for -X- variety for my region, but the USDA 2015 report lists the same variety (I forget what it is now) at just over 3 tons per acre for an acre of mature, cultivated stock. Where is that 2 tons going?

--- I'd get a consultation from an expert if I knew where to look. :a1
 
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balatonwine

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Other than that, no one really wanted to answer any questions pertaining to the profitability of the business
There is an old saying: To make a million dollars in the wine business, you need to start with 10 million.

It is pretty accurate.

You are planting something that will take years to produce a crop. The cost of setting the vineyards is only part of the cost. You have to consider all the routine maintenance you have to do and pay for years before you see any income at all. You may try to get federal or state grants to offset theses costs.

And then you need to find a market for either your grapes (if you just farm the grapes and sell to a winery), or more difficult making your own wine (winery equipment is not cheap) and convincing people your wine is worth buying over someone else's wine. So in the later case, you may need a full time wine maker and marketing employee (added cost).


I would like to do an experiment with trellis systems on approximately 1/4 of an acre with (10) 100' rows, with a 12' spacing between rows so that my tractor & shredder can fit between the rows.
Let us take a step back and start with what grape varieties are you planning on growing? That question needs to be answered first before the others, as it would greatly help decide the trellis system. There really is little need to experiment too much (other than adjusting at some future time if you need to account for high vegetative growth).

But as a side note: Planting at 12' row spacing just because your current tractor fits is not a proper long term plan. Large scale commercial planting will be profitable based on yield, and you just removed a lot of yield there. So add in the costs of a narrower vineyard tractor, sprayer, finish mower, and in row cultivator to your business plan.

I was rather curious how vineyards in California manage to make money selling product for less than $1000 per ton, sometimes as low as $300 to $400 per ton, especially after operating expenses and labor costs are factored in. Is the tonnage per acre -that- much more in California?
Some central California farmers are ripping out their vineyards that are outside the "high value" areas such as Napa and the North Coast because it is simply not profitable anymore to grow grapes as production costs increase.

National and local laws will affect your operating costs, and not just wage laws. For example, fewer migrant workers are creating basic demand and supply economics and price wars between growers. What happens at harvest if you can not get enough workers because you can not afford the rates other local growers are paying to guarantee their crops are harvested? Maybe invest in harvesting machines? Well, yes, but add that cost to your business plan as well.

See for example this article which nicely demonstrates worker availability and labor costs on grape farmers in California:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-farms-immigration/

Just a note: the world really is awash with grapes and wine at the moment. Yet there is still the push to invest in new vineyards. But the day or reckoning will eventually come with too much production. Especially from "low quality" areas. The idea of buying local wine I 100% agree with. But to be frank, some areas of the world are just better at producing quality wine. Those areas will win, or at least not be affected as much. The "lower quality"* production areas (like the central valley of California) will slug it out with other areas and there is no saying who or which area will win. Which is also maybe why the other vineyards you visited were not too forthcoming with info. You will be their competition, which will become even more competitive for profits in the future.

* I actually like a lot of Central CA wine, but "Lodi' does not have that pretentious "Napa" name, so just can not always command a economically viable price.
 
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ZHill

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Thanks for the response, balatonwine.

My goal, if I even decided to go the vineyard route, was simply to have a cash crop every year. I have no intention of opening a winery of any kind outside of making a few gallons for friends and family every year. The variety or varieties that I decide to grow will be heavily dependent on research. It was suggested that I send out a bulk email to every winery in the state asking them general questions about what types of grapes they buy, if any, how many tons, average pricing, etc. (I'm assuming that is going to be a chore. We have around 400 registered wineries in the state.) What I decide to grow will be whatever is in demand and will make me the most profit based on that demand while considering yield per acre and price per ton. I would prefer to stick with hybrid American varieties, and here in Texas there is definitely more demand for red wines than white, and from all of the research that I have done red wine varieties do much better in the state and account for at least 70% of the state's production.

"But as a side note: Planting at 12' row spacing just because your current tractor fits is not a proper plan. Large scale commercial planting will be profitable based on yield, and you just removed a lot of yield there. So add in the costs of a narrower vineyard tractor, finish mower, and in row cultivator to your business plan."
That's a fair statement. --- I'm also curious how much larger spacing would offset fertilizer costs? In most of the business plans I've seen, the seasonal applications of fertilizer can get quite expensive, but I haven't dug into any of the ag. science just yet. I'll save that conversation for another day. --- 6 to 8-foot spacing seemed to be the norm for most operations? Also, if I irrigate from the aquifer / well / pond, if it's even legal (still have to check into laws), I'll probably have the water tested for nutrients when I send in my soil samples, if I get that far. Irrigating from a natural water source, if only for a duration during the season, might actually help offset some of my fertilizer costs and replenish some of the nutrients in the soil, but which ones? --- I'll have to see what's floating around in the water. It all comes off of an aquifer.

If this is the case then would sending that bulk email and / or making a bunch of phone calls and asking questions be my best bet at this point? I know the labor hours involved are quite high after looking over a few mockup business plans, which isn't something that bothers me. I am really trying to figure out the best way to make a financial comparison between a calving operation and a vineyard. There's just as much risk with livestock as there is with cropping. Both have their pros and cons. Try feeding a large herd of cattle during a drought year, or paying outrageous vet bills, animal deaths, etc. That can get expensive. --- Texas only has 3800 commercial acres of grape production as of 2015 according to what I've read, so it seemed like something that might wind up being rather lucrative if I was willing to put in the time and effort to do it right.

I'm not a wine-o or a wine enthusiast ; I just enjoy horticulture. And vineyards look pretty... :h
A crop that I can just about sit around for 3-years before I have to do any hard, hard manual labor? I like it. *sarcasm*
Getting sloshed and building fence never seemed to bother me . . . But my rows might wind up a little crooked.

Some central California farmers are ripping out their vineyards that are outside the "high value" areas such as Napa and the North Coast because it is simply not profitable anymore to grow grapes as production costs increase.

National and local laws will affect your operating costs, and not just wage laws. For example, fewer migrant workers are creating basic demand and supply economics and price wars between growers. What happens at harvest if you can not get enough workers because you can not afford the rates other local growers are paying to guarantee their crops are harvested? Maybe invest in harvesting machines? Well, yes, but add that cost to your business plan as well.
California's minimum wage is $10.50, whereas Texas is $7.25. That's a $3.25 difference, and that could definitely add up fast. I would personally look into trying to find labor from our local high school's agriculture departments, 4-H, etc., and seek out youngsters looking to gain some agricultural experience. We have similar programs in the community, but none involving vineyards. Sometimes these kids even get high school credit for their work. But I'm assuming to be set up with a program like that I'd have to be a registered vineyard. I plan on looking into all of -that- later in time. ---- I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and I doubt I'd have any trouble finding the labor that I needed. Would it be cost-efficient? I don't honestly know without sitting down for a few hours and crunching some numbers. ---- Skilled labor, on the other hand, might be an issue? I'm not sure exactly how much 'skill' is required to hand pick grapes. I also know that many of smaller wineries, from what I've read, prefer their grapes to be hand-picked, so depending on the type of sales contract that might be up in the air could knock out the potential for harvesting with equipment. When it comes to pruning, mowing, & weed control ; I live on the property already, and that would be my job. Even if I did develop the whole 10-acre plot that's suitable, I think 10 acres is manageable with equipment for 2 people, while I realize that harvest is not. ---- Then there's the bird netting. Is that stuff as much of a pain in the butt as I've read?

Just a note: the world really is awash with grapes and wine at the moment. Yet there is still the push to invest in new vineyards. But the day or reckoning will eventually come with too much production. Especially from "low quality" areas. The idea of buying local wine I 100% agree with. But to be frank, some areas of the world are just better at producing quality wine. Those areas will win, or at least not be affected as much. The "lower quality"* production areas (like the central valley of California) will slug it out with other areas and there is no saying who or which area will win. Which is also maybe why the other vineyards you visited were not too forthcoming with info. You will be their competition, which will become even more competitive for profits in the future.
The world might be, but Texas is not. 3800 cultivated acres of vineyards, and a new law that states to be labeled at Texas wine the product has to be made with 100% of grapes grown in Texas? I'm hoping and assuming that because of this law change it will invigorate the market in my state. With all of the hippies down in Austin sipping on their trendy, local micro-brewed beers & wines, I'm really hoping that this might be profitable for me, at least regionally. We only have around 900 acres of cultivated vineyard in my region. I would be eyeballing my local markets. ---- I just read an article the other day that said that millenials are consuming 42 or 43% of all wine sold in the United States, which means that there is a new generation of wine-o's --- ripe for the picking?

Californians ... *facepalm*

Our property has hills and dips, and it's just not meant for commercial crop farming of any kind. Grazing livestock it suits just fine, but we don't have that much property. If I'm going to have to spend $30,000 to rebuild old fences before I even purchase a single head of cattle then I'm going to start asking myself if there's something else I could invest my money in, and I already have all of the basic farm equipment that a vineyard would require. Before the idea gets ruled out, I'm going to do my research to see if it's viable and profitable. If not: **** it. It's a shame that mega-vineyards in California can't find enough laborers for their large industrial operations. But a 5 or 10 acre plot? --- I just don't see myself having those same issues as Californians do.

Vitis mustangensis grows like wildfire out here. Any vine with similar climate and nutrient requirements, I'm assuming, would do quite well on my property. There's probably several thousand feet of old fence rows that are covered in it. It's worse than weeds. It consumes trees, fence rows, barns. If wine-making varieties aren't suitable or profitable, perhaps a variety of table grape would be?
 
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BigH

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You might find Paul Domoto's vineyard trellis PDF handy : http://www.prairiefirewinery.com/Cellar/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Vineyard-Trellis-Construction.pdf

Question 1:
I have seen pics of vineyards that used T-posts for line posts. I used wooden posts for everything in my vineyard, which is about the size of your 1/4 acre test plot. For a VSP, you will need to decide how high to put the cordon wire, how many catch wires you are going to have, and what spacing you want between the catch wires. For whatever length of post you have, it doesn't take much to run out of room vertically. I built one VSP trellis in my vineyard, and I wish I had one more foot of height on my posts so I could run one more catch wire.

Also, keep in mind that a VSP produces more strain on the end posts due to the extra wires. The catch wires don't need to be as tight as the cordon wire, but they add some strain nonetheless. Don't skimp on the design of the end posts.

If it was me, I would use round wood posts spaced at 27', which gives you 9 ft spacing between vines. 4 line posts + end posts would produce a 108 ft row with 12 vines in it. I would personally shy away from t-posts because I don't want to deal with future line post problems in a 4-6 wire trellis.

If you stick with t-posts, it would be wise to put a wooden post in the middle, or maybe a couple at the 1/3 or 1/4 points. That's how the ranchers do it :)

Question 2: Can't answer because I haven't used t-posts

Question 3:
The PDF I posted shows a couple of end post systems suitable for rows up to 600 ft. An H-brace can support even longer rows. I built h-braces on my 150ft rows. It was overkill, but it seemed easier to build than the anchor and tie back systems. You will want to factor in your soil texture when you pick your endpost system.

Question 4:
I used ratcheting wire strainers on all my wires, including the catch wires of my VSP. Kind of a pain to get the wire started in those things, but they sure come in handy when you are done. I loosen my wires a bit before winter, and tighten them back up in the spring.

H
 
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ZHill

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Thanks for the response. I'm going to check out the PDF.

If it was me, I would use round wood posts spaced at 27', which gives you 9 ft spacing between vines. 4 line posts + end posts would produce a 108 ft row with 12 vines in it. I would personally shy away from t-posts because I don't want to deal with future line post problems in a 4-6 wire trellis.

If you stick with t-posts, it would be wise to put a wooden post in the middle, or maybe a couple at the 1/3 or 1/4 points. That's how the ranchers do it :)
I have access to 8 & 10 ft. long cedar posts (width varies, and I'd hand-pick each post) for $3 & $5 per post respectively, which is basically the same price as a T-post. I can get treated posts at Tractor Supply for around $18 a post, but all of a sudden that turns into $1000 before the blink of an eye. All of the cedar posts are all cut and processed locally, and generally have a life expectancy of about 25 years, sometimes longer depending on soil drainage, which is about the lifespan of a producing vine. I've just never dealt with high-tensile fences before, and I was confused on the proper spacing. The weight of a cow bearing its weight against a typical barbed wire fence with T-posts can bend the fence pretty easily, so the wooden posts are usually installed for extra support in case an animal realizes that the fence is all smoke and mirrors, sexually-frustrated bulls especially. High-tensile fencing supposedly doesn't have the same problem. Steel posts and concrete would probably be the most durable, but that would get insanely expensive I'd imagine?

The cedar posts I thought could be rounded off around the edges and might go easy on bird netting if I ever made it to that point. Your thoughts?

Sitting on a tractor running an auger is a lot less work too. Hammering T-posts gets old, and I don't have a tractor attachment for that. :s

Question 1:
I have seen pics of vineyards that used T-posts for line posts. I used wooden posts for everything in my vineyard, which is about the size of your 1/4 acre test plot. For a VSP, you will need to decide how high to put the cordon wire, how many catch wires you are going to have, and what spacing you want between the catch wires. For whatever length of post you have, it doesn't take much to run out of room vertically. I built one VSP trellis in my vineyard, and I wish I had one more foot of height on my posts so I could run one more catch wire.
I'm going to assume, as per balatonwine's response, that the height of the cordon wire is dependent on the variety I decide to plant? I've noticed all of the plans for VSP trellis systems have height ranges.

The PDF states that wire vices are needed for trellis systems 200' or longer. Vices are actually quite expensive for what they are ; I was looking at them the other day. They're almost $50 for a pack of 10. No thanks!?!?!? ---- I guess in this case I would just use the round wheel tensioners? High-tensile wire loses strength when it's bent at sharp angles, I believe. Notching the posts and using crimping sleeves ; I'm guessing that would be a safe method? I realize I can't just knot the wire the same way that I would with barbed wire.
 
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NorCal

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I manage a 20 acre vineyard for our NorCal community and contract out all the work. It costs us $2500 per ton of contracted expenses, for fruit we sell @ $1500-$1800 per ton. This does not count the cost of the land, vines, water, depreciation, etc, just out of pocket costs. We are knowingly upside down, with all head trained and no mechanization; very labor intensive.
 

ZHill

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I manage a 20 acre vineyard for our NorCal community and contract out all the work. It costs us $2500 per ton of contracted expenses, for fruit we sell @ $1500-$1800 per ton. This does not count the cost of the land, vines, water, depreciation, etc, just out of pocket costs. We are knowingly upside down, with all head trained and no mechanization; very labor intensive.
Wow ... That's depressing to read. Why even bother then if the fruit just goes to market and you're losing money?
And would you mind outlining some of those expenses? I'm assuming most of that is labor cost?

In farming no one is ever looking to get rich. I'm used to hearing the break-even story, even from croppers in my area on bad years, but you're telling me your vineyard loses money? I've read plenty of pieces about rich folks sinking money into vineyards and wineries just for the sake of it ; to say they have their own wine brand, etc. ; and I knew wineries were a risky and expensive business, but I never figured the profit loss on produce could be that bad? Fruit usually has pretty good returns. I was looking for a project that, after expenses and start-up costs were paid back, would net me an extra $15 - 20,000 per year when full production was achieved, however long it took to get there (5 years?), and however much cultivated land I would need to reach my goal. I'm currently trying to meet the requirements for a rather large Farm Service Loan in the next 5 or 6 years, and I need to have a project that I'm actively investing in and managing. But whatever I decide to invest in will probably be what I'm stuck with. It's easier to get a loan for an expansion of an existing operation than it is for something new. So if I invest in cattle I would get a loan for more land & livestock. Same with a vineyard. A vintner walking into an FSA office asking for a $200 or $300k loan to buy cattle? --- They'd look at you cock-eyed most likely.
 
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NorCal

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The biggest expense, by far, is labor. Our vineyard require 50%+ more labor than other vineyards that are trellised. The community was never designed to be a for profit enterprise and I have proposed to remove every other vine to reduce our losses. (Didn't go over very well) It may be a unique situation, as the vineyards are part of the community ambience and the homeowners dues make up the losses.
 

semenn

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This is my first post here on this forums, and I see there's already an active thread about trellis design right now, but I have a few questions of my own if people don't mind answering them.
Yes, guys read about this business and think about it ...
In Russia everything is much easier, especially in agriculture. There are no big taxes that ruin accounts from veterinarians and a normal salary in agriculture is about $ 200 - $ 400 per month. The purchase price of grapes from the farm to the winery for red varieties is 600-700 $ per ton for whites about $ 350-400. It can be assumed that one hectare of the vineyard yields $ 5,000, having current operating costs for the vineyard at $ 3000 per hectare, the net profit can be $ 2,000 per hectare of vineyard per year, unless you are engaged in winemaking. Often, small vineyards in Russia are pawned with the expectation of agro-tourism and the sale of wine to tourists with additional income. This direction now has the greatest interest.
That's why I planted a small vineyard for an experiment with growing grapes. For grape-trellis I used industrial technology. Made four rows with different designs. The distance between the bushes is about 7` between the rows of 8`. Pillars used metal, steel wire rigid. This year I expect the first harvest of grapes for winemaking.
A small video about how I installed a trellis for grapes.
[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmHvoE2ljE8&t=2s[/ame]
 
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ZHill

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Thanks for the response, Semenn. It sounds like despite less profit the sustainability is a bit easier in Russia. I enjoyed the video.

:b
[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PeKcWCC-tw[/ame]
 
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semenn

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I'm glad if you find it useful.
And yes, marketing rules! :b
 

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Just a couple of thoughts on posts. End posts I agree with those above, nice sturdy wooden posts. Mine are 10ft, pressure treated rounds dug in 3-4 ft depending on rocks, I have lots of those.

I've seen many vineyards around here using t posts. I'd go with 8 or 10 footers depending on your soil as pointed out above, top wire height is limited to the top of the post. I use a "top notch" steel post myself. A buck cheaper than an 8 ft tee post and has notches on the sides to catch the catch wires. Since you are in an ag area, your local grange or farm supply should be able to find them. Shipping might be a killer but I'd say worth looking into.
 

ZHill

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Just a couple of thoughts on posts. End posts I agree with those above, nice sturdy wooden posts. Mine are 10ft, pressure treated rounds dug in 3-4 ft depending on rocks, I have lots of those.

I've seen many vineyards around here using t posts. I'd go with 8 or 10 footers depending on your soil as pointed out above, top wire height is limited to the top of the post. I use a "top notch" steel post myself. A buck cheaper than an 8 ft tee post and has notches on the sides to catch the catch wires. Since you are in an ag area, your local grange or farm supply should be able to find them. Shipping might be a killer but I'd say worth looking into.
I'll probably stick with the cedar posts for the end posts. 7' T-Posts are around $5.75 a post, and that's all my local Tractor Supply store carries. I know of the notched posts you're talking about, and I haven't seen those anywhere locally. So I would be forced to order online, and pay shipping as you've mentioned.

While we're on this topic, and say that I decide to use cedar posts, could I use eye bolts for running my wire instead of tacking it on with staples? I would obviously have to drill out my posts for them to be adjustable at all, but eye bolts would be adjustable whereas staples wouldn't be. I could get the bolts with the regular screw threading and open the eye up wide enough to remove the wire if I had to. Either way, they're both adjustable at that point.

Cedar posts can be a little rough, but as I've mentioned if I decided to go with cedar posts I would hand-pick every post that I used.





On the eye bolts, the reason I would prefer to use them is because my property has hills and dips. If I am forced to put posts downhill, the eye bolts would bend the wire according to the lay of the land. If I had completely flat land it wouldn't be as much of an issue. It's either staples or eye bolts. But I think eye bolts would be less strain on the wire for dips and bends, and give me more freedom for adjustment of the wire. I would have to run string along my posts and figure out where they needed to be placed.
 
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BigH

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The cedar posts I thought could be rounded off around the edges and might go easy on bird netting if I ever made it to that point. Your thoughts?
.

I am only in my second year of netting a crop. I haven't noticed much snagging on the posts. Snagging on spurs and shoots is more of a problem. The netting is pretty tough stuff, so I haven't worred about it.

I'm going to assume, as per balatonwine's response, that the height of the cordon wire is dependent on the variety I decide to plant?
I had a difficult time tracking down suggestions for wire spacing when I put my VSP in. Since I ran out of catch wires at the top, I wish I had put the fruiting wire down 6 inches lower. Only one of my rows is VSP, and I am transitioning it to a TWC system. My VSP needs one more catch wire to deal with the amount of vigor I have, and the deer just hammer the VSP in the spring. Plus, my vines have not been as upright growing as I thought they would be. I should be totally off VSP next year.

I think I put my fruiting wire 32 or 36 inches off the ground. I have 6 ft of exposed line post. A lower fruiting wire makes harvest a little less comfortable, but you only spend a few hours a year doing that. I would rather have more space for the top of the hedge.

The PDF states that wire vices are needed for trellis systems 200' or longer.
I didn't use vises. I wrapped the wire around the anchor post of my H brace, stapled it to hold it in place, and put two crimps on it. No problems on my 150 ft rows so far.

H
 

ZHill

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. I am only in my second year of netting a crop. I haven't noticed much snagging on the posts. Snagging on spurs and shoots is more of a problem. The netting is pretty tough stuff, so I haven't worred about it.
Awesome. I figured with 100' rows it would make the process manageable. I found plenty of netting online that came in 100' lengths. Something like 100' x 17', or 100' x 25'. I'm assuming that if I use 10' posts, I can run a guide wire over the top of my trellis system, which would then make rolling out netting a fast and easy 2-man job as the netting would be suspended by the wire and could be pulled along the row. --- I still needed to check into the load-bearing weights of the 12.5 gauge HT wire. I could always make my netting guide wire something like #9. And I could do something like 15' brace posts on the ends and suspend a 9 gauge, or whatever I need for the weight, with wire anchored with vises just for the purpose of running netting. This line would run at least a foot above my vines.


I didn't use vises. I wrapped the wire around the anchor post of my H brace, stapled it to hold it in place, and put two crimps on it. No problems on my 150 ft rows so far.
Exactly what I had planned on doing if vises weren't needed.

Thanks for the input.
 
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ZHill

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Here's a few pictures of some of our property & what will wind up being my backyard project vineyard, regardless of whether or not I decide to cultivate the 10 acre plot. The open area behind the burn pile in the first picture, going all the way back past the equipment, buildings, and into the distance is where the commercial vineyard would be if I decide to cultivate ; behind the pile of hay.

I've still got to get my chainsaw out and cut down the larger trees along the fence line for the small project.






 
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balatonwine

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What I decide to grow will be whatever is in demand
Wine consumers can be fickle. What is in demand now, may not be in 10 years. Even something as simple as a movie may alter demand for a particular grape variety.


And vineyards look pretty... :h
Aesthetics does have value.

A crop that I can just about sit around for 3-years before I have to do any hard, hard manual labor? I like it. *sarcasm*
Understand the sarcasm, but seriously, I also have orchards. And my orchards are much, much less work than a vineyard. But grapes are a higher value crop per area under cultivation. As you said, there are always pros and cons.


and a new law that states to be labeled at Texas wine the product has to be made with 100% of grapes grown in Texas? I'm hoping and assuming that because of this law change it will invigorate the market in my state. With all of the hippies down in Austin sipping on their trendy, local micro-brewed beers & wines, I'm really hoping that this might be profitable for me, at least regionally.
Well, those are of course millennials in Austin. The hippies are the ones who are growing the biodynamic grapes which are then made into gluten free wine, at the artisanal boutique wineries (the mini-breweries of the wine world), sold to the local wine bars as part of the slow food movement. Which is then the wine bought by the millennials. ;)

Not sure how much politicians, or the laws they pass, can change that dynamic.

Our property has hills and dips
Dips might be a problem for a vineyard. Possible sources of frost pockets, water drainage issues, inferior sun exposure, etc. But from your photos, I do not think you have too much of a problem.


I would personally look into trying to find labor from our local high school's agriculture departments, 4-H, etc.,
Also look into agro-tourism. Why get free labor, when you can get people to pay you to harvest your grapes? ;)
 
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semenn

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4. How many lines do I run? I've noticed that VSP systems vary. I plan on using 4 wires. Is 4 wires sufficient, or is this # dependent on the variety of grape(s) that I intend to grow?
Look at the descriptions of the training system, maybe this will help you.
 

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