Grapes have been cultivated for thousands of years. Viticulture, also known as a cultivation of grapes, is a long and hard process. However, as with anything, planning and adequate preparation will pave the way for an enjoyable and exciting experience.
A vineyard is a macro universe in itself. Managing one is a task that requires an almost omniscient knowledge of grape facts. However, this is not impossible. A major initial decision for grape growers to make is where to locate their lines in relation to the limitations of their chosen property’s boundaries. Within this framework, the vine grower must review and compare environment considerations such as:
- Daily sunlight duration
- Heat Pockets
- Soil Quality
- Rainfall Trends
- Water Drainage
- Climate Trends
Certain grape varieties can only be successfully grown in the correct geographic location, where climate and soil conditions are appropriate to the variety you would like to cultivate. Thus, while there are other equally important factors to consider, determining the correct location is critical; this is an irreversible decision and will spell the difference between a successful, long-lived vineyard and a disastrous, short-lived one.
Selecting the orientation of the site is a decision to be made by the individual grower. This could be based not only on the inherent topography of the site but could well be motivated by market conditions since it involves extending or shortening the growing season. A South-facing slope gives an earlier crop, but there is more danger of injury to the tender shoots of late spring frost. With northern or eastern facing slopes this risk is avoided but gives a later harvest. For the grower, the decision to make is whether an earlier crop is worth the risk.
There are also other external considerations such as the matter of cost, proximity to markets, labor supply, availability of water, etc. These factors will determine the profitability of the venture and crucial to its very survival.
The amount of sunlight available, the extent and variety of the surrounding flora and fauna, soil condition and prevailing climate are also important factors to consider when planning where to start the vineyard.
The growing season must coincide with the time when sunlight is most abundant. Pets and other animals that could destroy the crops must be controlled so it is important that the vineyard is located far from where these creatures reside. Soil composition must be analyzed so it can be matched with the correct vine type too. General climatic conditions will dictate how the whole process will proceed.
A site that has a gentle slope and good drainage will make the best location. It should not be near any woodlands or overgrown areas, where wildlife could eat grapes and damage vines. The vineyard should not be located near farms that may be using herbicides that are harmful to the vines.
While modern technology could enhance the process of wine production, its presentation, even marketing and other economic considerations; only the best-located and best-prepared vineyard can produce the best wines.