Starting a new vineyard

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GSMChris

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Hi All:

I'm a new member here and, as I said in my introductory post, my wife and I are putting in a hobby vineyard at our house near Paso Robles. The vineyard will be a total of eight-tenths of an acre in size on a north facing gentle slope. We are intending to grow GSM plus some Zin - about 500 vines in all.

We've literally just broken ground - the massive tractor ripped the soil 5 feet deep breaking up decades of compacted and sun baked clay. I couldn't get a shovel more than 2-3 inches into the soil previously. We've tested the soil and other than being acidic, it mostly just needs organic matter - aka compost.

A storm is here today - but once it goes away, the plan is to till in dolomitic lime and compost and let the rains soak it in.

Then it will be time to build the trellis system and wait for vines to arrive - probably in March.

I plan to keep you posted on this thread - and to ask lots of questions as the project progresses.
 
A few photos of the first stages of the project....

The first thing we had to do is mark out the edges of the vineyard with paint so the 811 dig guys could give us their blessing. Well, white paint didn't show - so I used green... mistake #1 of many to follow...IMG_5458.jpeg

The white flags placated the powers that be and we got permission to dig....
 
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The next shot shows a wide perspective of the land where the vineyard will be going

IMG_5461.jpeg

The vineyard is going to go from white fence to white fence (minus a 30 foot buffer on either side for trucks etc.) Along the back, where you see the commercial vineyard, there will be a 50 foot space as there is an underground utility back there.

The fence on the right is roughly South. The left fence is obviously North and the picture is facing East. As you can see, there is a slope going from the high point in the South East corner to the North West corner.
 
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Nice looking piece of property. 500 vines = 500G of wine each year. What are you plans for the fruit? Will you make wine or sell some grapes and keep some for yourself?
 
Nice looking piece of property. 500 vines = 500G of wine each year. What are you plans for the fruit? Will you make wine or sell some grapes and keep some for yourself?
Thank you.

So the plan is to sell some grapes and keep some to make wine myself. Several of my neighbors (not the commercial vineyard just regular home owners) already do this.

The commercial vineyard is 100+ acres and roughly 70 years old. They produce an amazing amount of fruit each year.
 
The operator ripped vineyard two directions - first the long way, going North South on a six foot interval. Then going the short way, east west, on three foot spacing between spikes.

Following the ripping exercise, he told me that we had about 6 inches of crust, then 4 feet of loamy clay and then the last foot was pretty solid clay.

The next step was to do a soil test. So I dug two holes, three feet deep, taking a sample off the side at 12, 24 and 36 inches. The samples from the same level were blended together (e.g. the 36 inch samples dumped into one bucket) - and a quart sized sample was pulled out. I mailed all three samples off to a lab in Napa Crop Care Associates who very promptly responded with a report of the soil analysis and, most importantly, what to do about it. Thus the need to add lime and compost.

And that brings you up to date. Next steps are to order the vines, till in the amendments, and install the trellis system.
 
Very nice.

I'm stringing trellis wire this week. We have done everything with the four person crew, husband, me, myself and I, so progress is slow but it is starting to look like a vineyard. The catch wires are going in this week and over the holidays. I still have posts to set and prepare for the next quarter acre planting. I hope to square up the block. When we get the fence rows cleared, we will start a new block or blocks.
We can expand to the left of the picture after some excavation. There is an open field to the left and another 4 acres of an old apple orchard to clean out.
Vineyard 10.20.21.jpg
 
You should not have a problem getting the vines you want back when I put my vineyard in it was a 50 vine minimum per clone/rootstock combination. What state are you located in? You are about to start a very rewarding and labor intensive hobby.
 
Missed that your are in Paso, just having my first cup of coffee. I'm also in California. I used Vintage Nurseries ( Now Wonderful) and Novavine. Nova was more expensive at the time but had some clones I wanted. Your in an area where you should be able to get plenty of free advice from Professionals though some of it may be contradictory. The pros seem more than willing to help us hobby guys out with information. I guess because we share the same passion. Jim's Supply in Bakersfield will beat everyone on Trellis systems pricing. They make it right there and sell it wholesale back when I bought mine 13 years ago.
 
I suggest you order soon because vines are now in short supply. I could not get the rootstock or varieties I wanted back in September. Time have changed! In 2019 I put in my vine order in late January and had everything available. I'm preordering for 2023. Maybe Wonderful Nurseries is doing better.
 
Missed that your are in Paso, just having my first cup of coffee. I'm also in California. I used Vintage Nurseries ( Now Wonderful) and Novavine. Nova was more expensive at the time but had some clones I wanted. Your in an area where you should be able to get plenty of free advice from Professionals though some of it may be contradictory. The pros seem more than willing to help us hobby guys out with information. I guess because we share the same passion. Jim's Supply in Bakersfield will beat everyone on Trellis systems pricing. They make it right there and sell it wholesale back when I bought mine 13 years ago.
The professionals have been great and very generous with their time and suggestions although sometimes confusing!!!!!

I'm looking at Novavine, Wonderful and Sunridge based on recommendations from both professional and hobbyists.

Good to know on Jim's supply - will definitely get a quote once I better know what I need.
 
I suggest you order soon because vines are now in short supply. I could not get the rootstock or varieties I wanted back in September. Time have changed! In 2019 I put in my vine order in late January and had everything available. I'm preordering for 2023. Maybe Wonderful Nurseries is doing better.
I'm putting together the order this afternoon for tomorrow - thanks for the heads up!!!
 
Hi All:

I'm a new member here and, as I said in my introductory post, my wife and I are putting in a hobby vineyard at our house near Paso Robles. The vineyard will be a total of eight-tenths of an acre in size on a north facing gentle slope. We are intending to grow GSM plus some Zin - about 500 vines in all.

We've literally just broken ground - the massive tractor ripped the soil 5 feet deep breaking up decades of compacted and sun baked clay. I couldn't get a shovel more than 2-3 inches into the soil previously. We've tested the soil and other than being acidic, it mostly just needs organic matter - aka compost.

A storm is here today - but once it goes away, the plan is to till in dolomitic lime and compost and let the rains soak it in.

Then it will be time to build the trellis system and wait for vines to arrive - probably in March.

I plan to keep you posted on this thread - and to ask lots of questions as the project progresses.
You live in a fantastic area for a vineyard, I’ve worked at wineries in Paso Robles. I also buy some of my grapes for the wines I make myself from Paso Robles, Zinfandel is a particular favorite of mine.
 
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