Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love Round Up
Help is available to wine grape growers from a wide variety of professions. It is important, especially early in vineyard ownership, that you have advice you can trust and which is consistent with the way you want to farm. Because in the end, all the decisions are yours. We can recommend consultants, most of whom we have used at one time or another.
Viticulture – Farming
If you have a vineyard manager, then he is probably performing this function for you. If you do not have a vineyard manager, then you may hire one or two to give advice. This covers every aspect of farming. How to prune, trellis, irrigate, fertilize, control weeds, till, leaf pick, control mildew and harvest. Some of these people can be very difficult to deal with. Their view of viticulture may be different than yours (drastically), or they simply may be bad at explaining things – or both. Don’t be afraid to try a few. Finding someone with a style that matches the way you want to farm is the most important here.
Viticulture – Soil, Irrigation and Petiole analysis
Soil, Irrigation and Petiole analysis measure the health of the soil and grape vine and try to assess the amount of water the vine needs and actually has. These activities require taking samples and sending them to the lab or monitoring sensors. All require someone to interpret the data. There are a set of specialized consultants that deal in one or all of these areas. Sometimes your vineyard manager will have someone they work with on a regular basis – and that’s OK. But you should see the lab tests and the conclusions so you can understand what they are doing. But you should not accept your vineyard manager not doing it at all because he “can tell from looking.”
Over the course of vineyard ownership there are a variety of issues that could come up that would require a good attorney such as issues over lot lines, disputes with wineries, disputes with neighbors, problems with the County. Get a good lawyer in the beginning and use them when needed.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Vineyard accounting and bookkeeping must be treated in a quite specific manner. Make sure you have an account that understands what expenses to expense and which to capitalize and how to depreciate your capitalized costs over time.