No Off Season For Grape Growers

The growing season is always a hectic time in the vineyard. Making sure to time sprays properly, getting canopy management practices done at the right times, and harvest — talk about crazy time! So in some ways, it might be natural to think of the time outside of the growing season as slower, more relaxed and easy. While that might be true to an extent, I don’t think you can really call the time after harvest through next year’s budbreak the “off season” for growers. There’s plenty to keep a grower busy during the winter, and I don’t just mean pruning.

• Review the past year with buyers. If you sold fruit to a winery this year, find time to meet with the winemaker and talk to them about how things went. How satisfied were they with the quality and quantity of fruit that you brought to them this year? Were there any problems with communication during the season or during harvest that can be improved? Remember that in the end, a grower is a supplier for the winery, just like the equipment, chemical, and other suppliers that growers rely on for their businesses. Think about the characteristics and behaviors that you appreciate from your suppliers and use those to make yourself valuable to your customers.

• Revisit business/marketing plans and goals. This assumes, of course, that growers have developed business and marketing plans for their business (if not, that should be your task this winter). The environment that growers and wineries operate in is constantly shifting on regional, national, and international levels. It is important, therefore, to regularly revisit the business’ goals and possibly adopt new strategies for how to accomplish them. Perhaps there is an emerging market or trend that could be captured if the business is able to adapt itself to meet them — a new variety, or something that is being requested by customers more often.

While this can seem like a daunting task, growers don’t have to go at this alone. There are a number of resources available to help farm businesses with this kind of work. Many lenders employ or have working relationships with financial consultants who will work with their clients. There may also be non-profit agencies or producer groups who can help. In New York, for example, NY FarmNet is an organization that works with farmers on financial and business planning, among many other issues, for little or no cost.

• Continue to learn. Winter is the time when many state and regional industry associations hold their annual meetings and conferences. One thing that I hear often from successful growers when asked about what makes them successful is that they are always trying to learn about new and better ways of farming. These winter meetings are always great opportunities for growers to gather and hear updates on practical information from faculty and Extension staff who do applied research, as well as from their colleagues who may be trying new and different things in their vineyards.

These meetings can also be just as valuable for the chance to network and make new contacts with other growers, find product suppliers through trade shows, and possibly even find a new buyer or market opportunity. In addition to attending workshops in your own area, think about attending one somewhere else. Besides being a small vacation, going to a conference somewhere else can expose you to new ideas that you might not get to hear about if you stayed in your own backyard.

One such opportunity will be the Viticulture 2010 Conference and 39th Annual Wine Industry Workshop to be held Feb. 17-19, 2010, at the Rochester Convention Center in Rochester, NY. The meeting will feature a number of national and international speakers both from industry and academia covering a wide variety of topics related to grape growing and winemaking. There will also be a large trade show featuring vineyard and winery equipment and service vendors as well. Registration, program, and exhibitor information can all be found at www.viticulture2010.org.

Enjoy your “off season”!

Leave a Reply

Grapes Stories
Convex landforms in Virginia are advantageous for grape growers as shown at this summer vineyard meeting. (Photo credit: Tremain Hatch)
Grapes
June 27, 2016
Make Time To Visit Other Vineyards
Getting out in your neighbor’s vineyard can help improve your own. Read More
embark cider works new york hard cider
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
New York Beverage Credits To Include Wine, Hard Cider
Credit allows wineries and cideries to reinvest savings in business. Read More
Workers at McManis Family Vineyards in Ripon, CA. (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Grapes
June 19, 2016
Golden State Winegrape Growers Honored
The California Association of Winegrape Growers announces 2016 Awards of Excellence recipients. Read More
A cluster of table grapes, discolored by heat stress. (Photo credit: University of California Cooperative Extension)
Grapes
June 17, 2016
Don’t Let High Temperatures Damage Grapes
It’s not just people who need to beat the ever-increasing California temperatures these days. Grape growers are finding that ill-timed Read More
Crown gall on a trunk of French hybrid ‘Chancellor’ before and after bark is stripped away. Galls appear in spring as white callous tissue, most often at the base of the trunk, gradually turning green/brown and finally dying to turn into dark brown/black corky tissue. (Photo credit: Penn State University)
Cold Protection
June 15, 2016
Several Severe Winters Causing Crown Gall Concerns
Although this past winter may be considered more mild, severe cold the two winters prior in the Midwest and Northeast Read More
A vineyard map image showing data layered on Google Earth. (Photo credit: Google Earth and Cornell University)
Grapes
June 9, 2016
High-Tech Solutions Could Improve Grape Crop Estimates
Determining accurate estimates of grape crop yield is notoriously difficult, but new methods involving precision sensing technology could help growers Read More
A warm winter could lead to an early harvest for  Washington grape.
(Photo credit: Washington State University)
Grapes
June 9, 2016
Washington Grape Growers Could See Early Harvest
Grape growers in eastern Washington who thought last year’s harvest was early could be in for another surprise. An unseasonably Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In…
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Grapes
July 6, 2016
Unmanned Aerial System Captures Washingt…
Residents need not worry about a small, unmanned helicopter flying over Washington vineyards this summer, as it’s fully approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Read More
Grapes
July 5, 2016
Washington Man Named Chairman Of The Win…
Todd Newhouse, owner of Upland Vineyards, also serves as the board chair for the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Read More
Grapes
June 27, 2016
Make Time To Visit Other Vineyards
Getting out in your neighbor’s vineyard can help improve your own. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 21, 2016
New York Beverage Credits To Include Win…
Credit allows wineries and cideries to reinvest savings in business. Read More
Grapes
June 19, 2016
Golden State Winegrape Growers Honored
The California Association of Winegrape Growers announces 2016 Awards of Excellence recipients. Read More
Grapes
June 17, 2016
Don’t Let High Temperatures Damage Grape…
It’s not just people who need to beat the ever-increasing California temperatures these days. Grape growers are finding that ill-timed Read More
Cold Protection
June 15, 2016
Several Severe Winters Causing Crown Gal…
Although this past winter may be considered more mild, severe cold the two winters prior in the Midwest and Northeast Read More
Grapes
June 9, 2016
High-Tech Solutions Could Improve Grape …
Determining accurate estimates of grape crop yield is notoriously difficult, but new methods involving precision sensing technology could help growers Read More
Grapes
June 9, 2016
Washington Grape Growers Could See Early…
Grape growers in eastern Washington who thought last year’s harvest was early could be in for another surprise. An unseasonably Read More
Grapes
June 3, 2016
Winegrape Varieties That Can Beat The He…
Researchers are evaluating a wide range of alternative winegrape varieties for California’s San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Grapes
June 1, 2016
Labor Costs Have Growers Eyeing Options
Methods to reduce labor dependency important for the future of grape production. Read More
Grapes
May 24, 2016
Sea Change Coming To California Winegrap…
Vines continue to be pulled from the state’s interior, while planting is expected to increase along coast and in Delta area. Read More
Disease Control
May 19, 2016
Native Plants Reduce Need For Vineyard W…
Scientists in eastern Washington are finding drought-tolerant alternatives to roses at the end of vineyard rows that not only save Read More
Grapes
May 18, 2016
Minnesota Has New Cold-Hardy, Lower-Acid…
The University of Minnesota has released a new cold-hardy grape that holds promise for winemakers wanting to make dryer wines Read More
Grapes
May 13, 2016
Just How Many Acres Of Grapes Have Been …
Nat DiBuduo of Allied Grape Growers says reports may be misleading and there are more than 48,000 nonbearing acres coming into production. Read More
Grapes
May 13, 2016
Virginia Looks To Boost Wine Business Th…
More than $800,000 is up for grabs for those interested in expanding or adding new vineyards in Virginia. The Virginia Read More
Grapes
May 13, 2016
Irrigation Method Can ‘Trick’ White Grap…
Washington State University scientists believe they have discovered a sweet spot for irrigating white wine grapes. Dr. Markus Keller, a Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]