Updated: Jul 23
Wine-growing is a serious business. Although there are dozens of brands available in stores everywhere, many people enjoy making their own wine. However, if you dream of taking your hobby to new heights, you’ll be pleased to know that buying your own vineyard has never been easier. They may require a lot of work and patience, but if wine is your passion, then buying and running a vineyard is certainly worth the effort. To help get you started, here are some top tips for buying and owning a vineyard in California. However, we recommend contacting an experienced agricultural land consultant, before making any hasty purchases.
Find the right land for a vineyard
The key to owning a successful vineyard is finding the right piece of land. Quality land for grape-growing can be tricky to find and expensive to purchase, but procuring the perfect piece of land can make or break your business.
Hillsides are the best locations for growing grapes, and if you can get hills that face south-west then even better! Hills have naturally well-draining soil, and often suffer less with the frost. However, flat land can work just as well provided you can put additional time into taming your vines to prevent them from becoming too unruly, and the soil is top quality.
Soil quality for vineyards
A soil test is essential for any type of home-grown produce, including grapes. Samples should be taken from depths of between 12 and 24 inches, as it is around this depth that the roots of your vines will become established. You can then effectively evaluate the suitability of your soil for vines and wine-growing.
If you have any concerns over the results of your soil testing, it may be possible to alter the quality of the ground by adding nutrients or changing the PH levels. However, doing so may not be time or cost effective compared to finding an alternative location for your vineyard.
Exposure to the elements
Sun and wind can play a big role in the success of a vineyard. However, getting the balance right is crucial, as too much sun can burn your grapes, and too much wind can damage the vines. The main growing season falls between March and October, and you will want to ensure that your vines see excellent sun exposure during this time. A decent breeze is also vital, as it can help to protect your fruit from mold and mildew. However, getting the balance right is crucial as too much sun can burn your grapes, and too much wind can damage the vines.
Choose the right variety of grapes
Whether you are looking to plant some of the wine grapes native to U.S. soil, or transplant popular varieties from Europe, choosing the right variety of grapes is essential and must be suited to the climate of your vineyard. This is because climate is arguably the most critical aspect in ripening the fruit to achieve the characteristics of specific wine styles.
In general, varieties of grape that are best suited to a cool climate tend to produce wines that are subtle, with crisp acidity, a lighter fruitier flavor with a lower alcohol content. Meanwhile, grapes that are suited to hotter climates deliver wines that are bold, full-bodied with darker flavors and a higher alcohol content.
Balance the books
Okay, this may be the boring bit for wine connoisseurs, but there is little point investing time and money in a vineyard that isn’t going to be profitable. In addition to the expense of setting it up, the running costs involved in grape-growing, and the subsequent wine-production often surprise potential vineyard buyers. In fact, maintaining a vineyard can cost anywhere from $30-$100k per acre during the first three years, reducing to $4-$9k per acre per year thereafter. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you don’t let your heart rule your head, and you carefully check that the books will balance before you sign on the dotted line for your very own vineyard.
If you are interested in taking the plunge and buying a vineyard, you cannot underestimate the value of the advice of agricultural professionals. To learn more, call Jason DurJava at Ag Land Consultants, Inc. today at 209-431-0400.