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Bought a farm with a 1 acres of vinyard grapes

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  • Original Poster

    I just needed feedback and suggestions. I purchased the farm and didnt give much thought to the grapes which I know is my deal but getting feedback from horse people with experience with the grapes has been great. Thanks for the feedback. The location is perfect for me and my horses. ALL the feedback has been great!


    • #22
      About 20 years ago, DH decided it would be fun to plant some grapes. We live in a low, flat part of the valley where cold collects, so an unsuitable area for French varietals. After several years we planted more cold-hardy types, but the wine was pretty mediocre. The vines require pruning every year to keep producing; pruning is quite time consuming and very hard on old wrists! Picking, crushing, the whole wine making process is very time consuming, and we only had 50 vines. We eventually decided to pull up the plants and take down the trellises. I can't say we miss them much.


      • #23
        Originally posted by fjordmom View Post
        Harvest labor will be your biggest challenge. If you think getting quality hay cut and baled between rains is tough, I'll just say it's a piece of cake compared to getting grapes picked and pressed for a quality wine.
        This made me laugh a little because my first job was picking grapes for a vineyard/small scale wine maker. These people found their labor pool in the local tween scene. I was one in a gang of 12-14 year olds working at per-lug (box) rates with a cash payout. It was actually possible to earn more than minimum wage if you stayed focused and didn't eat too many of the delicious concord grapes! That job incidentally led to my first paid riding lesson teaching job, for the twin daughters of the vineyard manager, on my pony.

        I agree with everyone that you should either lease them out so you're hands-off, or rip them out.


        • #24
          Originally posted by Mango20 View Post

          This made me laugh a little because my first job was picking grapes for a vineyard/small scale wine maker. These people found their labor pool in the local tween scene. I was one in a gang of 12-14 year olds working at per-lug (box) rates with a cash payout. It was actually possible to earn more than minimum wage ...
          This makes me laugh too. How long ago was that? You'd be hard pressed to get tweens out there today. If you can find any willing to stick with the job, OSHA will come knocking in very short order. Ya, I know we worked jobs like that "back in the day." But then I'm old enough to remember when minimum wage was $1.65/hr.

          One of my DH's and my favorite stories about our now adult son involves the small scale vintner wannabe that lived across the street from us when our son was a tween. Neighbor hired our son to help in his vineyard. We just sat back and chuckled. Our DS was never one to help in our vegetable and fruit gardens but maybe the $$$ would be a motivator. A week or so later we were over at the neighbors sharing a drink and something on the grill. Neighbor mentioned that as DS worked with him picking up rocks and clearing ground for more vines, DS had confided "manual labor isn't really my thing." Boy did we share a big laugh! Today that 30 year old son is a rather successful engineer, loving his work and well suited to it. Still honest and occasionally outspoken too.

          But I digress...
          ... and apologize for the hijack. Vineyard ownership will lead to some good stories though (and made even better over a bottle of wine).


          • #25
            I dunno fjordmom our local strawberry producer hires teens every year and gets more than enough. They just have to be 12, and away they go. It's a big producing organic farm on the island and supplies berries to national store retailers (and their own honesty stand and several local mom-n-pop stores/farm stands/storefronts and something they call a "pop-up" they advertise from Xa-Xp at X location to buy the berries and other produce), so I suspect they do it correctly.

            To the OP, it depends on what YOU are planning. While I have built and am still building my "dream farm," I also have an eye toward resale because I eventually want to retire to a place with lower costs and way less liberals. I may like or not like something, but I don't build anything that would be completely useless to another person who could be a potential buyer. I ran into a smallish boo-boo when I didn't plan well, and my arena will be a scoosh closer to the house than I would have liked, so I am making it a little smaller but still well within a usable size for a personal ring or even a small boarding barn's ring, and am "over building" it now so it will be all-weather, even tho I myself am more of a fair-weather rider. This farm is essentially part of my investment plan for retirement.

            Depending on where you live, hobby farms and/or grapes may or may not be a desireable thing. Around here, most hobby farms are pretty popular with their owners and with potential buyers (minus my neighbor who still hasn't sold their farm because it's a minimum $100k over priced ) and just about everyone I know has a small or large garden or even a commercially producing garden with day jobs, or has chickens with honesty egg stands or supplies eggs to the local farm stands, or their own. There are even people who commercially grow flowers for road side stands and people wait, discuss online, have favorites, etc, and it's a source of income (and work). I built a medium size garden with raised beds at no small cost (and this summer traded plants for plants and plants for eggs and have traded poop for eggs) because I know that I get some enjoyment and food out of it and also, it will be attractive to buyers. An acre sounds a little too much like hard work to me, buuuuuut... to someone it might be a good point. But if you aren't selling, then rip them out.
            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


            • #26
              Originally posted by believe View Post
              I just needed feedback and suggestions. I purchased the farm and didnt give much thought to the grapes which I know is my deal but getting feedback from horse people with experience with the grapes has been great. Thanks for the feedback. The location is perfect for me and my horses. ALL the feedback has been great!
              Are you near a high density of COTHers? Maybe you should host a grape grooming / wine making party a couple times a year. BYO food and everyone gets a bottle of wine when it's all done. Or do an Airbnb "experience" and have your renters work the vineyard.
              "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


              • #27
                We also had a small vineyard on our new property; unfortunately it was right where we needed to put the barn so we had it removed. We did however, send out an announcement to anyone that might want some well established grape vines. We had quite a few people show up and take vines. So if you are planning on taking it out let people know so some of the vines can be saved.


                • #28
                  I totally neglected my hardy grapes on the south face @2200 feet in northern Vermont and they went gangbusters most years. Eventually they overtook the arbor and the new owners tore it all down.


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Mukluk View Post
                    I'd find out what kind of grapes they are. I would think it would be more productive to keep the grapes and have someone else be in charge of managing them. Find out who the "Grape School" is in your area. I'm in CA and UCDavis has a whole wine program. If I had that property in CA I would contact someone at UCDavis.


                    I'm sure they would be able to give me some good leads and/or try your local winegrowers organization. Good luck.

                    A Grape is a Terrible thing to Waste!!!!

                    Yes..... I cry over spilled wine.
                    Also, if this is in California, it might be that the small vineyard was planted for tax purposes. I think that was A Thing a few years back-- an expensive-to-start "crop" was a nice tax shelter and/or helped people have their small farms get taxed as agricultural land.

                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by suz View Post
                      I totally neglected my hardy grapes on the south face @2200 feet in northern Vermont and they went gangbusters most years. Eventually they overtook the arbor and the new owners tore it all down.
                      Wine grapes tend not to be that self-sufficient.

                      And, using them for actually making wine is tricky because it depends so much on other factors (soil, sun, rain) that are either out of your control or require a lot of work.

                      Table grapes can be really easy; my dad's family farm had an even older property that has long since fallen down but the orchard is still there - it's at least 100 years old. The Concord grapes still grow great....only problem is that they grew up trees that are 50+ feet tall now. So harvesting is nearly impossible.


                      • #31
                        While I not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, I can tell you the wine grapes on the property where I live seem to be the plant equivalent of hard-keeping, suicidal Thoroughbreds.

                        That's part of the reason the vineyard where I live exists-- vineyards and wine making have become really popular in Maryland, but apparently it's super tough in this climate to harvest enough quality grapes to make decent wine. It's definitely not like the other agricultural crops they grow here where you put 'em in the ground and mostly let them be. So our farm supplements grapes to all the wineries around here so they can still tout a "local" product. From the looks of the crop lately, it's going to be a bad year for wine in this area.

                        We have a neighbor who just recently sold his vineyard/winery: they started it to make wine many years ago, but the grapes and subsequent wine were too inconsistent in quality for the business model they wanted. So they switched to distilling their grapes into liquor (which wasn't great, either, but more novel than the wine). Now the neighbor sold the vineyard and is brewing beer. I have never seen someone so happy to offload their property on to someone else.
                        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                        • #32
                          If you have dogs, I also know of a dog that lived on a vineyard and ate the grapes. He ended up spending a week in the ICU at the vet school in acute renal failure. I'm not sure how much kidney function he was left with in the end.


                          • #33
                            An acre isn't enough to be commercially viable but if you're in a wine growing region and close to other vines you might have a taker as a lease on it, in which case they'll be adding it to the other vines they manage. Whether that's worth it to you will depend on whether you needed that land for something else or not.

                            You would need to give your lessee access to the property with some frequency. There's pruning in the winter, frost protection in the spring, and harvest in the fall. Harvest is generally done at night. Other management will depend on your region - if pesticides are used, how much water they need, etc.

                            A well maintained vineyard is nice to look at and might improve your quality of life over having to maintain that area yourself. Only you can know.
                            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                              While I not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject, I can tell you the wine grapes on the property where I live seem to be the plant equivalent of hard-keeping, suicidal Thoroughbreds.
                              You win the prize! That is actually a very accurate analogy.