Growing grapes can be a rewarding pursuit.
They're appealing to the eye, pleasing to the palate, a profitable sideline and a reason for parties and neighborhood togetherness. Small wonder so many vineyards are cropping up in people's yards.
"The idea of having a landscape that produces something is one of the attractive issues," said Tom Powers, a winemaker who has designed and installed more than 100 small vineyards, mainly around the Alhambra Valley of Contra Costa County, Calif., near where he lives. "The other thing is the lifestyle of being in wine country is attractive to people and they want to be a part of it."
Property owners often install vineyards when renovating unsightly or underutilized land, said Powers, author of "The Organic Backyard Vineyard" (Timber Press, 2012).
"It's less expensive to do grapes than traditional landscaping like shrubs and flowers from an investment viewpoint," he said. "The trade-out is that you have to put in more maintenance time."
Make no mistake: Vineyards require attention. Rootstocks must be chosen, the soil prepared, trellises and fences built, vines pruned, canopy leaves thinned, nets strung to discourage predators, grape clusters harvested and processed.
But the work can be worth it economically. Grape growers from New York to California profit by selling their crops to hobbyists or to wineries that don't have enough tonnage to meet production demands. Other growers, including those who grow table grapes, enjoy exceptional flavors from fruit seldom found in markets.
The small acreage required for a vineyard can generate surprisingly high earnings.
"Up to $3,000 to $7,000 per acre in gross returns," according to the Upper Shore Regional Council in Chestertown, Md.
Grapes also are a smart environmental choice given their modest water and fertilizer requirements, plus low soil runoff, the council said.
It doesn't take many vines to start a rewarding grape-growing venture.
"A 100-foot row of vines can yield up to 175 bottles of wine," Powers said. "With a one-acre vineyard, you could make more than 5,000 bottles."
A mild climate is not required for growing grapes. Many varieties can be grown anywhere there is an ample amount of sun and an abundance of nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Grape-growing regions in the United States include Virginia, upper New York, southern Illinois, and extensively in California, Oregon and Washington. Many other small pockets lay elsewhere.
"It's a difficult thing to do if you live in an area where spring weather is wet for many weeks," said Gary Gao, a small fruit specialist with Ohio State University. "In Ohio, springs are so wet that you can get all kinds of fungal diseases."
Vineyard design varies greatly, but must accommodate climate and lay of the land.
"You try to match the personality of the place," Powers said. "The vineyard becomes the centerpiece of the spot you're landscaping."
Powers, for instance, built his home toward the back of the property and planted the vines up front.
"You have to drive through the vineyard to get to it (the house)," he said. "When I built one for a neighbor, we were able to wrap it around his house. It visually fit in with the house, and then we laid a trail so people could stroll through and see how they (grapes) were doing. It also incorporates a small lawn for parties."
Margot and Mario Corona live on a "very generous size lot" near Martinez, Calif. Much of their hillside property was undeveloped when they purchased it, giving them a variety of landscaping options.
"We're not in a neighborhood where we're allowed to have animals," Margot Corona said. "We didn't want some complicated landscaping. So we bought hundreds of vines — some 650 plants. With an acre of land under cultivation, it turned out to be much more than a hobby."
Growing grapes can pay off in many ways
Growing grapes can be a rewarding pursuit.
Letters to the Editor: 03/08/2014
Assumptions improvable.Continued ...
How to finance history?
Talks continue between a host of local nonprofit officials who could overlap their organizations for history’s sake.Continued ...
Boyne Falls finally tastes victory against Bellaire
Over the past three seasons, Bellaire has been the only team around that’s had Boyne Falls’ number. On Friday night it was finally the Loggers’ turn to taste victory.Continued ...
Ag Forum: Homeowners, farmers and stewardship
The Grand Traverse region is renowned for its scenic landscapes framed by breathtaking views of crystal clear bays. These views and the sparkling-clean water bring visitors to this area every year and create a competitive market for waterfront property.Continued ...
A little payback for a 'Good Samaritan'
Jenice Kroon knows almost nothing about Scott Peterson except that he was there offering a hand when she needed help.Continued ...
Titans stun Alpena, 61-47
Traverse City West has a regional date with Mount Pleasant on Monday.Continued ...
Adapted in TC: Reminiscence offers different view
The stylish, middle-aged woman standing at the mirrored sink washing her hands has her back to me. I’m headed to the other sink just as my small black evening bag slides off my lap.Continued ...
Parking-space dining latest twist for downtown TC
The opportunity to dine in a street-side parking space could become the latest epicurean delight — or potential nightmare, in one official’s mind — to arrive in downtown Traverse City.Continued ...
'Good Samaritan' injured in wreck needs help
They called Scott Peterson “Good Samaritan” after the late January car wreck that nearly killed him. But friends and family said Peterson, a man who would “give a stranger the shirt off his back” needs some payback for a lifetime of good deeds.Continued ...
Body&Soul in Brief: 03/08/2014
Lenten Luncheon series continues; Moomer's "Taste of Summer" benefit for Munson Hospice; and more.Continued ...
Gladiators hold off Manton
Manton scrapped and clawed and made a game of it on its home floor Friday, but St. Francis big man Noah Phillips was able to answer at the right time, enabling the Gladiators to hold on for a tense 54-51 victory in the Class C district finals.Continued ...
Body&Soul Newsmakers: 03/08/2014
People in the news:Continued ...
Loney scores 33, sparks Frankfort to a district crown
David Loney scored almost 60 percent of his team’s points in a 58-47 Class D district championship victory Friday over Bear Lake at Frankfort as the Panthers rode the hot hand of their star post player.Continued ...
Union pact on TCAPS agenda
Traverse City Area Public Schools board members will consider a contract with the Food Service Employees Association, the purchase of 11 new school buses and employee layoffs, resignations and retirements at their meeting Monday night.Continued ...
Nominate an outstanding educator
Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District wants to hear from the community about area educators who have made a difference.Continued ...
Blood Drive Calendar: 03/08/2014
Blood drives in the region:Continued ...
Hard work pays off for TCC's Piatek
Instead of working last summer, Traverse City Central senior thrower Johnny Piatek opted to devote his energies to training, all in hopes it would lead to a college scholarship.Continued ...
Two arrested in drug bust
Traverse Narcotics Team officers arrested a Detroit man and woman after a months-long drug probe.Continued ...
Boys Basketball Roundup: East Jordan ousts Boyne City
The first district basketball title in 19 years earned the East Jordan Red Devils a police escort back into town Friday night.Continued ...
Education Newsmakers: 03/08/2014
The following area students graduated from Central Michigan University following the fall 2013 semester:Continued ...
Community in Brief: 03/08/2014
TC Roller Derby birthday party; program on fall prevention and fire safety; Greenspire School hosts Family Arts Night; and more.Continued ...
- Poll: Should the West punish Russia economically?
- Saturday, March 1, 2014
Farmers market changes proposed
Joan Olds supports a proposed change to the Sara Hardy Farmers Market, even though it would stop her from selling her neighbor’s tomatoes.Continued ...
Ellsworth ministry teaches young men to be good men, good fathers
Gene Drenth grew up with a strong Christian father who passed down his faith and taught by example.Continued ...
Letters to the Editor: 03/01/2014
Spend on services; A winter to remember.Continued ...
- Letters to the Editor: 03/08/2014