Grape Growing

Preparing the Vineyard Site

  • Many factors are considered in vineyard site selection and preparation, ranging from row orientation to vine density to the selection of rootstocks.

    One of the most important steps in producing quality fruit is selecting a great vineyard site. The different elements of each site that affect wine style, quality and the personality and "character" of the wine are collectively referred to as terroir.

    Once a site has been chosen, the soil is plowed, fertilizer is added and the trenches in which the vines will be planted are dug. The orientation of the rows and the amount of space between the rows and vines are very important decisions because they are difficult to change once the vines are planted. The organization of a vineyard determines whether or not it can be worked by machine or by hand.

    The density of planting can vary anywhere from less than 400 vines per acre to well over 4,000, in some areas of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont. In cool climate Old World regions, increased density stresses the vines, which produces more concentrated fruit. In many warm climate New World regions, however, the soil is sufficiently rich to support higher densities without causing stress. In this case, higher densities can lead to dilute and unripe wines as well as increased problems with rot and mildew.

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