For anyone who plans on creating a small-to-moderate-sized backyard vineyard, this column should be mandatory reading. Because the best advice one can receive is to spend a lot of extra time in the planning stage, which will save an exponential amount of time later.
The reader letters have been piling up, so Wes decides it’s come that time again to pick up the pen and share some of the most useful questions (and his answers) that readers have sent to him over the past year regarding backyard viticulture.
Not every harvest is going to be perfect. When the grapes come in at less than ideal numbers or with other “flaws,” make sure you’re well positioned and able to make the best of an inferior harvest. Plus, learn how to identify what went wrong in the vineyard so the same mistakes aren’t repeated in future vintages.
Two attendees of the Backyard Grape Growing Online Boot Camp
had some follow-up questions; one on their spray protocol, the other about coming back from a devastating loss of vines. Wes dishes out some advice.
Have you ever visited a vineyard and wondered, “How did they do that?!” You know the place, where all the vines seem to be in sync and healthy. Wes found such a hobby vineyard and decided to interview the green thumb.
When I was assigned the story detailing the decisions that come up during red wine fermentations, I began to block out the options and decision trees that occur before, during, and after fermentation. As I finished the decisions that I considered important, I realized that suggesting best practices was very difficult from a single voice
The final days leading up to your grape harvest can be anxiety-ridden for most hobbyists . . . and even for professionals. Get pointers on how to properly plan and execute a professional-style harvest.
Determining your soil type can tell anyone growing grapes a lot about the conditions under which your vine’s root system will develop and grow. It can tell you how much you should irrigate or about your potential fertilization schedule. Learn how to determine where your vineyard’s soil type lands on the USDA’s soil-type triangle.
As we move into a new decade, Wes Hagen thought it prudent to lay out some of the latest and greatest gadgets and technology for viticulturists. He also answers some reader questions.
It’s been a few years since we’ve run a Backyard Vines Q&A. Wes Hagen answers several hobby vineyardists’ questions. Learn about tackling black rot, sunburnt grapes, and hedging vines.
All photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com It is not lost on the well-informed winegrower/winemaker that fungi — ancient, single-cell organisms that have been on this planet hundreds of millions of years longer than humans — are our best friend in the winery and our worst enemy in the vineyard. How is that possible? Yeast are fungi,
For viticulturalists, the time between budbreak and bloom is often a time to let the vines do their thing. But Wes Hagen explains that a little maintenance and care in this growth phase can save grape growers lots of time and hassle later in the year.
Are you ready for some viticultural self-reflection? When harvest is wrapping up, there is no better time to reflect on what you have done right in your vineyard and factors you could improve upon for next year.
For the home vineyardist, harvest day is the most important — or at least the busiest — day of the year. Planning and preparation is critical in order for everything to run smoothly. Let our harvest day tips guide you to great grape picking . . . and wonderful wine. Harvest comes once per year
Harvest/Post Harvest Quiz: With Pro-Inspired Conceptual Cheat-Sheets Mark your answers and keep a running score in the margins. There will be a discussion of point totals at the end of the article.
Q & A Q Post Harvest Well, the growing season down here was hot and furious and I can’t believe it, but all of my backyard Zinfandel vines survived all the bugs and the heat and made some nice wine this year. We’re done pressing in early September and I can’t help but think there’s
Ripeness & Wine Style As harvest nears and the grapes are getting ripe, we growers need to start making some decisions concerning the style of wine we want to create. The wine media often gets caught up in the enological debate of ripeness and wine style. So, in this section of this grape growing special
Pruning Your Backyard Vineyard Pruning grape vines during dormancy is a vital practice for keeping your vines in balance. Grape growers discovered thousands of years ago that cutting off up to 90 percent of the previous year’s growth from a dormant vine will limit the crop and vegetative growth of the vine in the following
Choosing A Rootstock There was a time when grapevine vineyards were planted with only 18” (46-cm) cuttings from existing grapevines. A few buds went under the ground and few buds were left above the ground. Vines would root on their own and a vineyard was basically free to plant if you knew someone you could
Buying Vineyard Land A high percentage of my consulting business comes from wine lovers wanting to buy vineyard property. The story is usually the same: about ten years from retirement, successful in business, getting tired of pushing paper in the rat race, they want to get back to an agricultural way of life to recapture
In college I had a good friend from New Jersey who was convinced that Californians lacked depth of character because we didn’t have to live through harsh winters. Even though I disagree that you have to shovel snow or ice fish to reach your potential as a human being, I do agree that awareness of