by Paul Read
In recent years I have often been asked the question, "Can I make money growing grapes?" My answer paraphrases a comment of one of my former teachers, "There's no money to be made in growing grapes...Just in selling them." There are many variables to be confronted in establishing a profitable vineyard. It is critical to do your homework!
- Is there a market for your grapes?
- Will they be sold to a winery or other processor?
- Can you get a contract with the processor?
- What cultivars ("varieties") will you grow (what one(s) does the processor want?)
- What price will be paid? If not stated up front, how will the price be determined?
- Do you have a suitable site? (See "Site Selection Checklist").
How Long can you wait to recover your investment costs? 7 years? 10 years? 15 years?
How can costs be reduced without sacrificing QUALITY?
Do Your Homework
- Read books, trade and scientific journals.
- Visit successful vineyards and wineries.
- Attend workshops, seminars, classes.
- Talk to and learn from other growers.
- Develop a business plan.
- A suitable site is already in place (owned or long-term lease). No land costs are included.
- Necessary equipment is available.
- Adapted cultivars will be planted.
- All labor is paid at skilled laborer rates.
- Trellis will be a standard 2-wire for bilateral cordon (added costs will be incurred for GDC or other systems).
- Machinery costs are operating costs only
- Plant spacing will be 8 feet apart in row, rows 10 feet apart (= 545 vines/A)
- Standard treated wood posts and 12.5 gauge high tensile strength wire with appropriate hardware will be employed.
- Grass cover crop between rows and herbicide treatment in the row.
- No interest is included
Adapted from Costs of Establishing a WineGrape Vineyard by Bruce Bordelon, Purdue University. Figures are adjusted for inflation and location.
Year One Cost/Acre
Site preparation $ 166
Plants and planting 2,398
Trellis materials & Installation 1,670
Weed, disease and insect control 473
(includes mowing row middles)
Fertilizer, canopy management 1,010
and machinery operating costs
Total Year One $ 5,717
Year Two Cost/Acre
Pruning, replanting and canopy mgt $ 447
Weed, disease & insect control 339
Fertilizer and machinery operating costs 294
Total Year Two $ 1,808
Year Three Cost/Acre
Pruning and canopy management $ 542
Weed, disease & insect control 442
Fertilizer & machinery operating costs 347
Total Year Three $ 1,678
THREE YEAR TOTAL $ 8,475
- Developing a Sustainable Vineyard Management Plan - Andy Allen
- Sustainable Practices in Vineyard Nutrition - Andy Allen
- Canopy Management: A Valuable Tool for Vineyard Sustainability - Andy Allen
- Viticulture, Enology and Marketing for Cold-Hardy Grapes - Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, Northern Grapes Project
- Vineyard Management for Quality Wine - Andy Allen