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Starting a Vineyard

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Starting a vineyard to supply grapes to your winery is a huge expense in both initial investment and labor.  Expect to spend $8,000 – $15,000 per acre just for the trellis, posts, and plants.

This initial cost isn’t all that you After the vineyard is established, the plants will require a large amount of water to ensure they survive over the first few years.  If you aren’t using well water, expect $10,000 annual water bills.  Beginning in year 4, the roots will have gone deep enough to get a better water supply so frequent watering won’t be needed unless there is a drought.

Then you have to spray the plants with fungicide and herbicide. Figure $1.00 – $1.50 per vine on spraying costs.

Then there is the labor.  Vineyards are largely a manual process and need constant maintenance.  One person can typically handle up to half an acre and still have a full-time job.  With proper equipment and some seasonal help that could go up to 5 acres if you dedicated yourself full-time in the vineyard.  .

The sobering fact is that starting a vineyard will cost a lot money and labor and you aren’t going to have a return until the fourth year, meaning you will be buying grapes until your vineyard is producing fruit.   You are also hoping especially during the first few years that no drastic weather events damage your plants.  You’ll still worry after those first few years but it’s even more likely to kill the plants during the initial years.

Be sure to check out the book From Vines To Wine by Jeff Cox.  Also check with your local Ag Extension office to see what varieties grow well in your area and other issues to be aware of.