Perfect Vaccine for the times and a serendipitous event.

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Hello All,
As the title says, for me this is a perfect new hobby. I have been a wine drinker but never ever thought of growing or making my own wine. Since I live in Sacramento, back from a yet one more short but great trip to Napa, in the middle of pandemic (which included a complimentary bottle of wine with the hotel room) the light bulb went off finally. I am stuck at home and UC Davis is practically my alma mater, why not learn how to grow/make wine?. The growing of grapes idea would come later because I am a suburban homeowner, not a acreage owning farmer. Slowly but surely though fueled by so much incredible info available all over the internet the idea is becoming real.
I was lucky very early on, I came across the link to the book from "Vines to Wines" by Jeff Cox and once the book came in, I knew I was going to do this. A couple of friends were more enthused about the idea than me, doubtless dreaming drinking the wine already.
But the problem of land means I have to start very small, that means a trapezoidal bit of backyard real estate sandwiched between the back and side fence and the dog run. Measuring all of 200 sq ft of hitherto unused soil covered in clumps of grass and weed kept alive by uneven watering over the years by an unmotivated sprinkler system. That's all the land I allowed to have, since the said dog run is already monopolized by my wife's planter boxes for veges.
So I have spent all of Oct digging about a foot of top soil out - mostly dead (no earthworms for example) and have planted Diakon Radishes to amend. An initial test for NPK revealed mostly depleted soil, so added the required organic compounds. A month later, the Daikons have established themselves reasonably and the plan is not harvest them but 'till' them back into the soil (before seed) to lock in the N2 and hopefully have deep holes in soil due to their "bio drilling".
Now for the bit of serendipity - I have 6 holes dug out about 18'' deep for my endposts - was planning to plant those later in the month. More on that later. Over the weekend we got overdue rain here in Sac. It rained pretty much all of Sat night thru Sunday eve. And as I am doing every 2 hours of my awake life these days, I checked on the plants and none the holes had much water no more than a inch of rain water. Which made me happy -good draining soil I was thinking to myself. And then I came to a corner hole and it was filled to the top, this hole was. I came back once the rain had stopped to time this particular hole and it took a long time over 16 hours to drain - in fact there is still water in there now. So that leads me to think that I could DIY a tile drain at that part of the soil to ensure a modicum of water removal. I may not be able to go 4 feet deep - I dont have the tool or resources to that but at least a 18". I am thankful, I spotted this now as I also think perhaps my soil is not the greatest being mostly clay but at least I could mitigate the water issue now rather than find out after planting.
So there you have it. I am planning to plant a spacing of 6 ft by 5 ft for a total of 9 or 10 vines in 3 rows. Hi density planting. The goal is to come as close to 5 gallons of finished wine augmented by purchase of juice if required. I am partial to Red Vinifera like Cab Sav but again I dont have any experience in this area. I am learning to appreciate wine only after I landed in US as a student - actually much later since I was a poor Indian grad student (PIG) in short. I would therefore be glad for any input on yield that I can get for the Cab or should I go with mix of vines always keeping in mind I would like to get to 5 gallons of finished product (from mature wines and on a average year). Important since I have not made any planting decisions yet.

So thanks for reading and looking forward to any and all feedback.

-Best
 
Last edited:

sour_grapes

Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers
Joined
Sep 19, 2013
Messages
13,732
Reaction score
15,577
Location
near Milwaukee
I have no advice to offer you, but that is a hell of an interesting introduction! Welcome to WMT. I am sure others can help you figure it out!
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
I have no advice to offer you, but that is a hell of an interesting introduction! Welcome to WMT. I am sure others can help you figure it out!
Thanks sour_grapes.. (what a definitive username!) for the welcome. Looking forward to being a part of the forum for the foreseeable future.
 

Rice_Guy

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
2,847
Reaction score
3,686
Location
Food Industry - - Retired
Welcome to WMT

your intro it feels like you like work, ,,, grapes are a five year project, you should pick the first taste on year three but a taste is all. You are near grape country so you have neighbors who grow and could start fermenting next harvest. With the effort it takes me (up north), ,,,, well it would be cheaper getting grapes others grow, however I was a farm kid so I HAVE TO garden.

Lots of effort on drainage, ? grapes are plants so I have seen vineyards with drip irrigation, ,,, they require water. Up north I should see at least 20 inches and maybe even 40 inches of rain per year, ,, aren’t you in a 10 to 20 inch climate? The grapes take rain in stride since grapes are weeds, ie want to take over everything. ,,,, If I want drainage I mix sand in the soil, however mostly I add organic (leaf debris, cow, or chicken (high nitrogen) and horse poop) since it holds water and makes the soil easier to work.
Have fun on the project :b it is a fun hobby
 

salcoco

Veteran Wine Maker
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
3,163
Reaction score
1,571
Location
Kansas
to compute your wine making, it takes 12 lbs of grape to make one gallon. the minimum harvest on a plant is 8 lbs but can be larger dependent on variety and vigor and terroir. I would visit neighboring vineyards to see what they have the best luck with.
 

ibglowin

Moderator
Staff member
Administrator
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 7, 2009
Messages
25,430
Reaction score
33,897
Location
Northern Nuevo Mexico
Welcome aboard! Grow some grapes for fun but you are right in the Mecca for high quality grapes at a reasonable price so my advice is to jump in feet first next year. Hook up with a local winemaking club to find sources for raw materials as well as new friends.

Welcome to the hobby/obsession!
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Welcome to WMT

your intro it feels like you like work, ,,, grapes are a five year project, you should pick the first taste on year three but a taste is all. You are near grape country so you have neighbors who grow and could start fermenting next harvest. With the effort it takes me (up north), ,,,, well it would be cheaper getting grapes others grow, however I was a farm kid so I HAVE TO garden.

Lots of effort on drainage, ? grapes are plants so I have seen vineyards with drip irrigation, ,,, they require water. Up north I should see at least 20 inches and maybe even 40 inches of rain per year, ,, aren’t you in a 10 to 20 inch climate? The grapes take rain in stride since grapes are weeds, ie want to take over everything. ,,,, If I want drainage I mix sand in the soil, however mostly I add organic (leaf debris, cow, or chicken (high nitrogen) and horse poop) since it holds water and makes the soil easier to work.
Have fun on the project :b it is a fun hobby
Good point on the drainage. Maybe I am overthinking this. Sacramento region gets an average rainfall 18 inches per year. I will still work on it esp because I like the idea of a French Drain - drains into the ground away from the accumulation and seems like my kind of work.. a bit at a time.
On winemaking.. My original thinking was grow and use wine kits at the same time. But with all the feedback here I am thinking buy local grapes and then jump headfirst. Will have to watch the budget though. Thanks for the feedback
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
to compute your wine making, it takes 12 lbs of grape to make one gallon. the minimum harvest on a plant is 8 lbs but can be larger dependent on variety and vigor and terroir. I would visit neighboring vineyards to see what they have the best luck with.
Wow although 8 pounds per vine seems high but all my calculations are from published vineyard yields on the interwebs. Would love to get those kinds of yields. I have local club in mind here and they seem to be very active.. Time to join and learn as well. They also offer equipment on rent which may be perfect for me. Sacramento Home Winemakers | Promoting the Science and Art of Home Winemaking
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Welcome aboard! Grow some grapes for fun but you are right in the Mecca for high quality grapes at a reasonable price so my advice is to jump in feet first next year. Hook up with a local winemaking club to find sources for raw materials as well as new friends.

Welcome to the hobby/obsession!
Thanks for that. Looking forward to making new friends and getting a local hobby. With the real vaccine coming here this week 2020 may end on a sliver of a good note after all. And since we are in a drinking forum - a small shot for some humans but a huge shot of optimism kind of a thing.
 
Last edited:

Rice_Guy

Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
2,847
Reaction score
3,686
Location
Food Industry - - Retired
local clubs are fantastic! our equipment is no charge, we sell buckets, run QA, contests, feedback and occasionally pick somewhere.
Wow although 8 pounds per vine seems high but all my calculations are from published vineyard yields on the interwebs. Would love to get those kinds of yields. I have local club in mind here and they seem to be very active.. Time to join and learn as well. They also offer equipment on rent which may be perfect for me. Sacramento Home Winemakers | Promoting the Science and Art of Home Winemaking
 

CDrew

California Garagiste
Joined
Feb 15, 2018
Messages
1,295
Reaction score
2,140
Location
Sacramento Metro
Hey, a local! Welcome to the madness that is home wine making. And a home vineyard too: count me as envious. Where are you? I'm in 95864 and willing to share and talk wine making any time. Let's do a local tasting.
 

Obbnw

Senior Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
131
Reaction score
141
Location
Salt Lake City Utah
Good point on the drainage. Maybe I am overthinking this. Sacramento region gets an average rainfall 18 inches per year. I will still work on it esp because I like the idea of a French Drain - drains into the ground away from the accumulation and seems like my kind of work.. a bit at a time.
On winemaking.. My original thinking was grow and use wine kits at the same time. But with all the feedback here I am thinking buy local grapes and then jump headfirst. Will have to watch the budget though. Thanks for the feedback
I've got a nano-vineyard like you are planning. I really enjoy it. Our soils are clayey and I do have one vine in a wetter area. The vine in the wet area almost died this year. I'm thinking about retrofitting a drain to the area. Most of the water comes from a neighbor's shed roof and my garage roof. I rerouted the gutters this summer but if it still suffers next year I'll add a drain. If I am motivated in the spring I may add it anyway. We get about 17" of water each year with most of it from November to March.

I did plant tighter and grow the vines much higher than a vineyard style planting but I only have a single row and do have to use a ladder for maintenance.
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Hey, a local! Welcome to the madness that is home wine making. And a home vineyard too: count me as envious. Where are you? I'm in 95864 and willing to share and talk wine making any time. Let's do a local tasting.
Wohoo!! Yes I am in 95608. Sorry for the late reply. I am so looking forward to this. How to add you to my contacts?
 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
I've got a nano-vineyard like you are planning. I really enjoy it. Our soils are clayey and I do have one vine in a wetter area. The vine in the wet area almost died this year. I'm thinking about retrofitting a drain to the area. Most of the water comes from a neighbor's shed roof and my garage roof. I rerouted the gutters this summer but if it still suffers next year I'll add a drain. If I am motivated in the spring I may add it anyway. We get about 17" of water each year with most of it from November to March.

I did plant tighter and grow the vines much higher than a vineyard style planting but I only have a single row and do have to use a ladder for maintenance.
Thanks for that info. I did see that higher vines in some pics and was curious as well. Do you have more clusters per shoot? I am thinking the standard was 2 clusters but the higher height mean more yeild?
On the drain I am enthused about a French Drain which is basically a perforated pipe from the water accumulation to a maybe 50 ft to 100 ft length. There may or may not be an endpoint to the drain. Seems within my capabilities to take on.
 

Obbnw

Senior Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
131
Reaction score
141
Location
Salt Lake City Utah
Thanks for that info. I did see that higher vines in some pics and was curious as well. Do you have more clusters per shoot? I am thinking the standard was 2 clusters but the higher height mean more yeild?
On the drain I am enthused about a French Drain which is basically a perforated pipe from the water accumulation to a maybe 50 ft to 100 ft length. There may or may not be an endpoint to the drain. Seems within my capabilities to take on.

I've taken a laisse fare approach to vine growing and haven't really tried to understand the trunk arm cane shoot etc and vsp 2 wire etc. Funny I heard VSP so many times and never wondered what it stood for until writing the previous sentence, now I know ; ). I think I have more "canes", I didn't really track how many clusters per shoot.

The laisse fare approach and lack of tracking clusters per shoot did hurt production this year. I was being aggressive in maintaining an open canopy for better airflow and different aesthetics and ended up removing most of the fruiting shoots on about half the vines (oops ;). I do have several vines around the garage that are more pergola style trained and know I got about 20lbs of grapes off of each of them.

I did plant closer together than typical ( 4' spacing versus the 6' spacing I saw as recommended) on the assumption that I was going up not out.

The top of the fence in my profile pic is about 10'. I've got a support wire at about 8' and am going to add one at 10 ft this spring about 2.5' in front of the fence. I continually cut the tops off all summer to keep them from going over the fence into the neighbors yard. (it is a relatively narrow walkway, the neighbor thinks the grapes are cool but I don't think he'd appreciate them narrowing his walk even more). I'm hoping the additional line will make it easier to keep them off the fence.

I also put in a drain under the gravel that runs from the back of my garage all the way to near the front of my lot (about 120'). At the end of the drain it it just gravel and in a heavy rain you can see water flowing up through it. I used to get some puddles along my driveway and the drain eliminated the problem. I wish I had run it further to the back of the yard, but at the time I put it in my plan for the back of the yard was different.

Good luck, I really enjoy the vines as plants alone, the wine is just a bonus. See the thread below for another picture. My wife and I sit out back in the summer looking at vines while sipping wine from last years vines.

 

mangoman

Junior
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Very nice pics.. What a great setup. Question do you have an issue with pests/birds on the garage set up? Otherwise the aesthetics of the malbecs on the garage itself seem worth it all. Thank for that. Looking forward to more pics.
 

Obbnw

Senior Member
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
131
Reaction score
141
Location
Salt Lake City Utah
This was the first year I noticed a few birds on the grapes. With the 2 varieties and yard microclimate harvest typically extends over 4 weeks. This year some robins were starting to eat the grapes on the last vine that wasn't picked. The grapes were at 23 brix so I just picked them but if I was not worried about the birds I would have left them on for another 3-6 days. I didn't want the birds to learn they were a food source. Reading some of the bird horror stories here make me hope the lack of birds continues. We have a bunch of Virginia Creeper in the neighborhood, a huge windstorm wiped out much of it a week or two before I noticed the birds. I think the birds typically go to the Virginia Creeper first so with it gone they went to the grapes. All my grapes are pretty well protected from wind so they only had minor damage.

The only other pest is leafminers. The damage usually isn't too bad, they also prefer the Virginia Creeper.

That was a long winded way of saying "No, but your results may vary" ; )
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 18, 2014
Messages
3,716
Reaction score
5,041
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Wohoo!! Yes I am in 95608. Sorry for the late reply. I am so looking forward to this. How to add you to my contacts?
Welcome! I am 25 minutes up hwy 80 from you in Loomis. Join the Sac Wine Making group for sure. Lots of good people and resources. Plenty of people with small vineyards as well.

I host a group buy with them each year, where you can buy small quantities of commercial quality Cab Franc at reasonable prices; <$1/lb. Last year I brought my destemmer out there, which seemed to be a hit. There are some pretty darn good winemakers in the region and we share all we know to elevate everyone.

I have also held a blind wine tasting contest the previous few years with the Sac group (skipped this Covid year). Everyone was able to taste each other’s wine and converse. Since wine making from local grapes only comes around once per year, it is important to learn as much as you can as fast as you can. Your wine will only get better each year if you continue that pursuit.
BBE6B8CB-1FD9-4612-A4C7-74F68456E0D3.jpeg
 

mgmarty

Shady Acres Winery
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2013
Messages
318
Reaction score
64
Location
Utah
Welcome. This is one marvelous group. My best advise is to ask a lot of questions. There is always more than one way to do something and someone here has usually tried both ways. Have fun!
 

Latest posts

Top