New vineyard and new to forum - SW Virginia

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by bshef, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. Jul 18, 2019 #1

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Good morning; I just discovered the introduction forum. On May 7, 2019 my husband and I planted 1/4 acre of grapes in Southwestern Virginia, zone 6a, elevation 2000 feet.
    We planted:
    25 Vidal Blanc
    25 Traminette
    25 Chardonel
    25 Cayuga White
    25 Chambourcin
    25 Chelois
    11 Norton
    20 Marechal Foch
    15 DeChauac
    15 Chancellor
    2 Riesling
    2 Cab Franc
    2 Pinot Noir
    2 Merlot - we'll see how well the Merlot, Chardonnay and Cab Sav do in zone 6a
    2 Chardonnay
    2 Cab Sav

    My plan is to have 3 acres under vine when I retire; hopefully Spring 2024 but no later than Fall 2026. I plan to grow some vinifera (Riesling, Cab Franc and Pinot Noir) but that will be my last planting before retirement. Now I'm trying to decide how much to plant in 2020 and which varieties. I'm satisfied with my hybrid white choices so I'll be adding to their number. I want more of all the reds but also want to try Marquette and perhaps Baco Noir or Noriet. I understand Baco should do well in my heavy clay soil (Frederick silt loam) but Noriet may make superior wine. I'm concerned that Noriet has low yields - I'm pressed for cleared acreage - most of our 19 acres are wooded and a considerable part is a sink-hole. To add to the mix, I work in Washington, DC so my vineyard is only tended every couple weeks. That's why the vinifera portions will have to wait until I am much closer to retirement. I'm doing everything on a shoestring budget as well.

    Anyway, I'm happy to be jointing the forum and have learned a lot from viewing all the posts. We don't have many wineries in the Southwestern part of Virginia so I'm in hopes we can join the few. Any and all advice is welcome!
     
    Ignoble Grape likes this.
  2. Jul 18, 2019 #2

    sour_grapes

    sour_grapes

    sour_grapes

    Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

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    Wow, I am impressed! Welcome, and good luck with your project.
     
  3. Jul 18, 2019 #3

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Thanks so much! I know I've lost my mind but I'm so impressed with the support from every corner. In Virginia, when you say you are thinking of growing grapes, you have tons of people (Va Tech research team, other growers/wineries, Piedmont Community College Viticulture Program) offering support and information. No investors - though there are state grants for new growers. I even have people asking when I'll have grapes for sale to home winemakers.
     
    Ignoble Grape likes this.
  4. Jul 18, 2019 #4

    salcoco

    salcoco

    salcoco

    Veteran Wine Maker WMT Supporter

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    personally I would stick to the hybrids and most resistant to disease. right now you are feeling youthful and full of vigor. give your self another 5 years at retirement and anything you do to reduce the workload will be beneficial. I would increase you Norton planting. Impressive plans Good luck
     
    Ignoble Grape likes this.
  5. Jul 18, 2019 #5

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Thanks so much for the encouragement! I am going to increase the Norton. Double A could only sell me 11 Norton vines this year. I'm really going for the hardiest most disease resistant so I am concentrating on the hybrids. If I get the Virginia Farm Winery license I can buy up to 49% of the grapes I use in production; that may be my vinifera "crop". Buying grapes is a little known (dirty little?) secret of a lot of Virginia wineries.
     
    mainshipfred and Ignoble Grape like this.
  6. Aug 13, 2019 at 1:48 AM #6

    Tony Toto

    Tony Toto

    Tony Toto

    Junior

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    Hi. If you're looking to raise funds to aid in the growth of your new wine business, maybe I can help. I recently started a crowdfunding platform exclusive for the wine industry. Let me know if you want more information. Maybe we can chat one-on-one. In the meantime, keep working at it.
     
  7. Aug 13, 2019 at 2:23 AM #7

    wood1954

    wood1954

    wood1954

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    welcome! that's a lot of grapes. I planted 60 vines on approx 1/4 acre 8 ft apart and 8 ft between rows, how have you setup your vineyard? every couple weeks isn't too bad as long as you keep up your spray programs. Good Luck
     
  8. Aug 13, 2019 at 1:46 PM #8

    Ignoble Grape

    Ignoble Grape

    Ignoble Grape

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    Welcome! I'm so inspired by your story! Love that you're doing it while working and then planning on FT when you transition! I'm playing with that dream as well - tho retirement is a ways off!
     
  9. Aug 13, 2019 at 7:14 PM #9

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    The 51/49% rule has been on the books for a long time just never strictly enforced. It's my understanding they are cracking down now. I'm involved in 2 Va Farm Winery projects and the later of the 2 is having trouble getting their license since their crop is not yet planted.
     
  10. Aug 14, 2019 at 2:41 PM #10

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Thanks for the encouragement Ignoble Grape!

    Mainshipfred, I'd like to get my VA Farm Winery license sooner rather than later so I'm interested in the process.

    Also, I've heard there is a push in Virginia to restrict leasing of venue space to wineries that grow and make their own wine. Several wineries are growing but the wine is made by another winery or processor.
     
    mainshipfred likes this.
  11. Aug 14, 2019 at 2:45 PM #11

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

    mainshipfred

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    I believe the term is "Custom Crush" when someone makes wine for someone else.
     
  12. Aug 14, 2019 at 3:00 PM #12

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Thanks! So many terms and so much to learn. No wonder I keep dreaming (nightmares?) about vines, trellis, weeds, bugs...soon cold and freezing temps.
     
    mainshipfred likes this.
  13. Aug 14, 2019 at 6:43 PM #13

    bshef

    bshef

    bshef

    Highland Meadow Vineyard

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    Sorry Wood1954, missed your question. I set up 250 ft rows, 9 feet between the rows, 6 feet between the hybrids and 4 feet between the vinifera. I'm going to set the trellis line posts 18 feet apart. My husband (the tractor driver) would like more space between the rows so we are in negotiation for next Spring planting. :) If I give him more between row space I may space the vines a little closer. Some vineyards are planting vinifera 3 feet apart.
     

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