Dreaming of Having Your Own Vineyard? Here is How Your Dream Will Become True

Dreaming of Having Your Own Vineyard? Here is How Your Dream Will Become True

The decision to establish your own vineyard should not be taken lightly. With establishment costs high, planning needs to be very thorough and systematic to ensure success and to minimize errors. Here is the information you need.

1. Establishing your vineyard

Thanks to new grape varieties, good wine can also be made outside the traditional wine regions. Did you ever hear about e.g. Regent, Rondo, Johanniter or Solaris? In this step-by-step instruction you will read how to establish your own vineyard and how best to maintain it. Bear in mind that this is an agricultural project which may involve issues like soil adjustment, drainage, mounding under the vine rows, irrigation, fertilizing, spraying, the problems of mechanization and heavy machinery, the choice for biological (ecological) cultivation, frost control etc. There will always be a certain degree of trial and error.

— Choice of grape variety,
— Soil characteristics and fertilizing,
— Planting along a trellis system,
— From small stick to grapevine,
— Continuous rejuvenating

2. Choice of grape variety

No other aspect is more important for the taste and character of the wine than the choice of grape variety. The range of varieties to choose from is growing every year. You can start reading broadly on the following grape varieties:

Red wine grape varieties:

Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Dolcetto, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Carignan, Garnacha Tinta, Malbec, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Syrah, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo

White wine grape varieties :

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Albarino, Malvasia, Chenin Blanc, Muller-Thurgau, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Trebbiano, Semillon, Palomino

Please note that this list is far from exhaustive and that new frost and disease resistant varieties are developed every year. When establishing a vineyard in a humid climate, it is advisable to select a grape variety that is quite resistant to mildew. (As rose-trees get effected by mildew before the grapevines do, they are often planted in the vineyard to warn for the presence of mildew. This allows for spraying against mildew in time.)

3. Soil characteristics and fertilizing

Like many other plants, the grapevine needs a loose soil surface layer of 50-60 cm in order to start off properly. A second crucial element is calcium. The soil’s pH should be around 6.5 – 7. So often calcium is given every single year. As organic material you can choose between well digested or dried manure, compost, potting or wood soil, or a pure organic commercial fertilizer with low salt concentration and free of chlorine.


The variety Solaris ripens even in Denmark and in the south of Sweden. Most of the time, the type of soil is no handicap eather. Wine grapevines are not really demanding where soil is concerned (so you don’t need necessarily pefect soil like the one along the Mosel River in Germany or the one in the Banyuls region in Southern France in order to produce healthy grapes), if only the right rootstock is selected. For loam soil, the rootstock SO4 is suited, for good sand soil the 5C, for poor sand soil the 5BB and for calcium rich soil the 125AA. And then there is the virus resistant rootstock Borner. This rootstock can be used in nearly every soil type.

Wet feet

If your land plot consists of turf soil with a high ground water level, then you’re unlucky. Then unfortunately it is very hard to cultivate wine grapevines. They really don’t like wet feet and acid soil. To a certain degree, a mushroom fertilizer may help here.

Soil activity

Most importantly, the soil must live. The active micro and macro organisms enable the grapevine to take minerals from the soil. It is useful to plant grapevines in a covering of low grasses, clover and flowers. This covering increases the soil activity and fertility. Moreover the clover brings nitrogen into the soil and the growing plants attract natural enemies of harm causing insects, so they function as pesticides.

4. Grapevines along a trellis system

An optimal climate in the vineyard is important. This can be obtained by planting the grapevines in the right way.


In order to maximize exposure to sunshine, vineyards are often established on slopes directed to the south. Wine grapevines definitely need a sunny location. Plant them preferably in rows in north-south direction so they can profit best from sunlight. If necessary, you can also choose for another plant direction. In a row, the grapevines are planted every 1,20 or 1,40 (1,50) m. The distance between the rows must be 1,8 m minimally and 2,25 m maximally. With a smaller distance between rows the grapes do not get enough sunlight and the humidity in the vineyard reaches higher levels than desired. With a bigger distance between rows the air is cooling too quickly by the influence of the wind.

Trellis system

Because grapevines can’t stand on their own feet, they are guided along a trellis system. This system is placed before the grapevines are planted. Such trellis system can be made by beating into the ground solid posts about every 5 meter. The posts must reach a height of ca. 1,80 m above the surface level.

Iron wire is guided along the posts. The way of guiding the wire along the posts depends on the cultivation method. For the Guyot-method two single and three double wires are needed. The single wires come at a height of 0,75 and 0,90 m above the surface level, the double ones at 1,20, 1,50 and 1,80 m.

5. From small stick to grapevine

A good way to raise your grapevines is the Guyot-method. Here you will read how to proceed.

After planting the grapevine, you allow one shoot to grow up. The other shoots you cut off when they are about 5 cm long. In the first summer the shoot grows up to a length of 1,50 to 2 m. In the winter following this summer, the shoot is cut back to a length of 0,9 to 1 m. The grapevine’s stick has then been formed.

During the next spring, the stick gets shoots. You keep the upper three, the other shoots you cut off when they are 5 cm long. The three shoots are seized between the double wires so they grow upwards. When in July or August they are about 1,5 m long, they are topped. But that’s not all. The little flower racemes that appear on the three shoots in spring should largely be removed. At this stage, only one raceme per vine plant may remain. In autumn this raceme gives the first grapes.

In the second winter after planting, the vine is further developed. From the three shoots you keep the two most vital ones. The third one is cut off near the stick. You bend the two shoots, left and right of the stick, over the upper single wire towards the lower single wire. This way the two so-called “Guyot-curves” are formed on the stick.

In the third spring after planting, young shoots grow on the two Guyot-curves. When they are 5 cm long you remove shoots so the space between the remaining shoots is 10 cm. So, per vine plant twelve to fourteen shoots remain. These are guided upwards between the double wires and topped when they are about 1,2 m long.

On the vertically guided shoots originate various flower racemes. Only the lowest raceme on each shoot may develop into a grape raceme. The other racemes are removed at the end of July or the beginning of August. This is very important! The average vine can get only about fourteen grape racemes well-ripened. If more racemes are kept, the grapes will give a meagre and watery wine. A widely grown grapevine against a wall having sometimes a hundred racemes doesn’t produce good wine.

6. Continuous rejuvenating

By cutting back the grapevines in the right way every year, they will remain young and vital.

From the third winter, the grapevines are cut back in the same way every year. With the winter cutting the Guyot-curves are cut off near the stick. Then the stick and two young branches remain. These two branches are bended left and right of the stick over the upper single wire and attached to the lower single wire. So two new Guyot-curves are formed. By proceeding this way, the grapevine stays young and vital.

With the summer cutting of a developed grapevine, you proceed in the same way as in the third year of the development period. You keep twelve to fourteen shoots on the Guyot-curves, each shoot is topped on a length of 1 to 1,20 m and only the lowest flower raceme on each shoot may grow into a grape raceme. For two reasons it is important to top the fruit-bearing shoots on a length of 1 to 1,20 m and not on e.g. 0,5 to 0,6 m: maintaining the correct leave-fruit proportion (crucial for the grapes’ sugar percentage and thus the quality of the wine) and preventing the shoots from developing a lot of side shoots (short shoots tend to give a lot of side shoots).

7. Note also you can propagate the vines by yourself. The easiest way to do so is by digging in a branch or by winter cutting.

8. Last but not least, bear in mind that older grapevines (older than 40 or 60 years) have the highest potential to deliver top quality grapes.

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