Do you dream of owning a vineyard? Bottling your own wine? Raking in the awards for a fine vintage? It’s an ambitious project but you would not be the only one nourishing that particular fantasy. The number of vineyards in the northeast is on the rise but like all agricultural endeavors it pays to do your homework before you invest. Grapes can be finicky and a truly drinkable wine requires training and patience. Oh, and the startup costs for the infrastructure for even a modest operation are high.
If you are interested in doing some research on starting a vineyard you’re in luck! There are several resources available to get you started. UVM Extension has a Cold Climate Grape Research project, a USDA-funded project to explore Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in cold climate grapes. Under the leadership of Dr. Lorraine Berkett the research project includes a blog where you can follow the development of the UVM Vineyard. You should also review the guide, Considerations for Starting a Commercial Winegrape Vineyard in Vermont.
The Intervale Center Success on Farms program recently hosted a seminar on the economics of vineyards. Materials from the presentations are available including presentations by Dr. Tom Cottrell, University of Kentucky and Dr. Gerald White, Cornell University.
The Vermont Grape and Wine Council is a membership organization for those involved in the growing, making or promoting Vermont wines. The Council sponsors education seminars and networking opportunities for new and experienced growers.
Finally, eXtension has a community of practice devoted exclusively to the exploration of growing grapes for the commercial viticulturalist. With proven information and links to valuable resources you will find information on planning the vineyard, selecting varieties, pest and disease control. Can’t find the answer to your question. The Ask an Expert feature will direct your question to a specialist.
So, while you’re waiting for the snow to melt and the ground to thaw, open a bottle of your favorite red, white or rose and start your homework. Cheers!