The cornerstone of any winemaking venture is the vineyard. If you are ready to start designing a vineyard there are some useful tips you could follow to help you successfully lay it out.
How much space will you need to operate equipment? What are the headlands and alleyways? How long should rows be? What about the vineyard arrangement? All these are valid and important questions when it comes to planting a new vineyard.
General Outlines for a Vineyard Establishment
Once a suitable site has been selected for a vineyard, the next step is laying out the vineyard in blocks. These blocks should have straight, parallel rows with consistent spacing of rows and vines.
Some factors that affect vineyard design include site capacity, grape variety, rootstock characteristics, and management practices. Furthermore, topography and the type of equipment on site are also relevant as far as designing the vineyard is concerned. A poorly designed vineyard that does not match the vine size will be more costly to manage. When designing the vineyard, it is paramount to look for professional advice if you want your wine enterprise to achieve good economic returns and quality products. In the following sections we will consider some aspects for a successful vineyard design.
Selecting Your Vineyard Site
Hillsides, especially southwest-facing hillsides in the northern hemisphere, have always been the preferred location for growing quality winegrapes. However, it has been suggested by many wine experts that this tradition was originally done out of necessity. Infertile hillsides were used to plant grapes because other agricultural crops failed to grow there. Despite this, hillside sites do have a silver lining. This type of sites is generally well-drained and have less frost issues in spring, as long as the cold air has space to flow down and away.
On the other hand, flat sites boast many upsides contrary to popular belief. Flat sites afford easy spraying, pruning, and picking. Quality fruit can grow on flat ground; it just might require more vine-pruning to keep the vines from going too wild. Regardless of whether you prefer hillside or flat sites, it is imperative to know what sections of your vineyard get the most sunshine, wind and shade during the growing season. Sun exposure on the fruit allows for good flavor out of your grapes and healthy vines. Some wind will protect grapes against mold and mildew, but too much wind will shut down the vine and stop it from respiring naturally. Moderation and balance is key for an ideal vineyard site.
Headlands and Alleyways
The end of a vineyard row is known as headland. There should be enough room left for each headland to provide space to accommodate both end post anchoring systems. In addition to this, sufficient turnaround space for harvesting machines, trucks, and trailers, is a must. A minimum headland width of 30 feet (9 m) is recommended.
Alleyways are breaks between vineyard blocks. These are meant for systematic breaks in what would otherwise be long, continuous rows in a vineyard.
Partitioning the Vineyard into Blocks
Once the vineyard encompasses several acres of land, it is generally highly advisable to partition it into blocks. A block might represent a single variety, a soil type, etc.
When the vineyard is partitioned in blocks you must draw a straight baseline. By choosing a base line such as a fence or road the winegrower can establish the first row.
Row Spacing and Row Orientation
Field dimensions and practical considerations will define the spacing and orientation of rows. If the field dimensions are of a long rectangle, then planting fewer, longer rows is better than shorter rows. Generally, it is preferable to lay out rows in a north-south direction so that both sides receive similar amounts of sun.
Row spacing depends on the proposed training and trellis system as well as the equipment of the vineyard too. Most conventional vineyards commonly use eight to ten feet between rows. Horizontally divided systems need more space between the rows than single vertical systems for equipment and foliage access.
The distance between vines within the vine row is influenced by a combination of factors. Varietal vigor, fertility of soils, type of trellis system, and climatic conditions all have an impact on vine spacing. Vigorous varieties typically require more distance between vines, whereas less vigorous varieties do not need so much room.
Choose VenToSpain for Your Next Wine Experience
For winemakers, designing a vineyard is like building a place of worship. A vineyard is sacred for any winegrower, it is the beginning of great wine brands and home of their history and traditions. Taste the spirit of the Basque Country and our vineyards in every bottle. Delight yourself with the flavors of Spain. If you have never tasted Spanish wines before, this is your chance. Check out our international wine line VenToSpain. Do not miss out on discovering what we have in store for you.
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