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Very small backyard vineyard recommendations

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Cibb

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I'm not looking to start a winery. We finally close on our new house the 30th. It has a steep incline that I intend to use for a small vineyard.

I'm hoping maybe 20 vines at most using a 6 foot spacing. I'm wanting something to give me some tannin and heft for wine kits.

This is near salem virginia the zone is 7a. I'm a fan of the Cabs and Syrah but I realize those are very susceptible to molds and fungus. Just stating to give an idea of my goals and likes.

Any recommendations are welcome.
 

Cynewulf

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I’m up in Northern Virginia and planted 64 Cabernet Franc vines 2 years ago and it’s definitely been a learning experience. As you mentioned, we face a lot of disease pressure here and my vines really suffered the first couple of seasons. Between black rot, downy mildew, Japanese beetles, and tobacco hornworms, I lost over half of them. I’ve got my spray protocols dialed in much better this year and things are looking up, but this year I’ve also replanted the ones I lost with hybrids for better disease resistance - specifically Marquette, Itasca, and Enchantment. The hybrids have taken off and already are showing better growth in two months than my vinifera showed after two years. That said, I understand some hybrids can have issues with tannins if that is what you’re looking for. As long as you stay on top of the fungus and bugs you should be ok even with vinifera and Cab Franc is one that is supposed to do better in our state. Best of luck and hope to hear how things go.
 

salcoco

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I would suggest visiting wineries in the area and see what grapes they have had success with. also search out a wine club check with your wine shop they maybe aware of one. the club member experiences will shorten your failures as well.
 

Cibb

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I’m up in Northern Virginia and planted 64 Cabernet Franc vines 2 years ago and it’s definitely been a learning experience. As you mentioned, we face a lot of disease pressure here and my vines really suffered the first couple of seasons. Between black rot, downy mildew, Japanese beetles, and tobacco hornworms, I lost over half of them. I’ve got my spray protocols dialed in much better this year and things are looking up, but this year I’ve also replanted the ones I lost with hybrids for better disease resistance - specifically Marquette, Itasca, and Enchantment. The hybrids have taken off and already are showing better growth in two months than my vinifera showed after two years. That said, I understand some hybrids can have issues with tannins if that is what you’re looking for. As long as you stay on top of the fungus and bugs you should be ok even with vinifera and Cab Franc is one that is supposed to do better in our state. Best of luck and hope to hear how things go.
I've read the hybrids are much easier to manage but I've read they dont have the tannins of the more traditional varieties.

Thanks for the information though.
 

bshef

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I'm 100 miles to the South of you and in zone 6b according to the USDA. I think we really are 6a. I would argue you are really in zone 6 but that aside, I know you can grow Cab Franc and with some luck, Cab Sav. You will have to spray diligently with the vinifera and regularly with the hybrids. I'm going to add Marquette to my vineyard next spring but I'm still planning to keep up a regular spray schedule. Only one winey in Virginia is certified organic; Loving Cup. Organic doesn't mean no spray though. I hate to admit this but if you want to raise grapes in Virginia, study your sprays.
 

BenK

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Disclaimer: I have never grown or tasted it but Noiret might be a good option as a hybrid if you are looking to beef up kit wines.
 

JustJoe

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If you want to raise the tannin level, elderberries may be of interest. They have high levels of tannins and have virtually no disease or insect problems. I add them to every wine I make and the results are great.
 

Raiz

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Why not try some muscadines? I'm in central Virginia and someone I know grows Noble Muscadines and has had great success. It's not a traditional wine grape, but they are also great for fresh eating.
 

Maynard123

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If you want to try Muscadines check out the Ison's Nursery website I got mine from them and haven't had any trouble with disease. Japanese beetles and birds have been my biggest problems. I live just across the border from Va Beach. As Raiz said Noble is used for wine and it's a dark grape. I like the wine they make but maybe you could make a batch and see if you like it, I have gotten them from Benjamin Vineyard in NC they will ship a 5 gal bucket that is enough to make a batch.
 

bshef

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Cibb lives on the Western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of close to 1,000 feet. I'm not certain the Noble Muscadine will survive the winters. The climate in Salem is different than Central Virginia and vastly different from Eastern/Coastal Virginia. I still suggest Cab Franc, Pinot Noir, and give Cab Sav a chance. I know Petit Verdot and Merlot grow in Bassett, Virginia at Hamlett Vineyards. I'd give both a try. Double A Vineyards is where I ordered my vines and they are great folks to work with. You get a discount if you order 50 plants of any mixture (grapes, berries, hops, willow). Cibb may not have as much trouble with Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew by being in a less humid area. Salem gets a lot of rain but rarely gets the oppressive heat and humidity.

Crimson Cabernet is a new variety that some swear is as good as any vinifera, however, the breeders require a minimum of one acre planted, they come potted not dormant, and I've heard they are hard to grow.

Good luck Cibb and start preparing your ground ASAP after you close. I waited until the day before planting to auger holes. I plan to work up the holes earlier next Spring. Also if you have a chance, take some of the Piedmont Virginia Community College classes in viticulture. Most are on Saturdays in the Charlottesville area. You are only a couple hours from C'ville and the classes are not expensive. Many of the commercial vineyards and wineries in Virginia have taken the courses. PVCC has a certificate program but I'm just taking the classes I think I need. I don't think I need tractor safety or tractor repair (been working with tractors for 40 years). Vineyard site selection is also a waste; I own the land and have limited space. Let me know if you have any questions.

I started my vineyard this Spring but have been farming/gardening in Southwest Virginia for 40 years and also for the last 10 in the Northern Neck. I'm an expert in the differences in the climate, soil, and growing conditions between the mountains and Eastern/Northern Virginia.
 

Sailor323

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I really like Maréchal Foch. It's a French American hybrid, Makes a really nice red wine with cherry notes. It is also a teinturier which means you could make a rosé. If you like a light fruity red like Beaujolais, this is a good grape. One thing, though, you should avoid malolactic fermentation. Seyval Blanc, also a French American hybrid is often called the Chardonnay of the East. Makes a good white.
 
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