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
May 13, 2016
Virginia Looks To Boost Wine Business Through Grants
More than $800,000 is up for grabs for those interested in expanding or adding new vineyards in Virginia. The Virginia Read More
Partial rootzone drying: Two emitters deliver water alternately to either side of a vine’s rootzone. (Photo credit: Yun Zhang)
Grapes
May 13, 2016
Irrigation Method Can ‘Trick’ White Grapes
Washington State University scientists believe they have discovered a sweet spot for irrigating white wine grapes. Dr. Markus Keller, a Read More
Brown marmorated stink bug. (Photo credit: USDA)
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Scouting Tips For Growing Grape Pest Threat
Grape growers should be on the lookout this fall for two pests that are popping up in vineyards along the Read More
red blotch featured image
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Found
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Vineyard Labor Downsized GP
Grapes
April 25, 2016
Vineyards Honored For Sustainability
California Green Medal recognizes wineries and vineyards with a focus on sustainability. Read More
Botrytis in 'Riesling'

Photo: Wikimedia commons photo
Grapes
April 22, 2016
Spring Rains Could Increase Phomopsis And Botrytis Infections On Grapes
Areas that don't typically see many infections could be in for a surprise this year, thanks to a wetter spring. Here are some tips to keep these diseases at bay. Read More
These employees and/or labor contractors at McManis Family Vineyards represent nearly 70 years of experience.  (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Grapes
April 21, 2016
McManis Family Vineyards: Treating Employees Like Family
It’s no coincidence that more than half the full-time vineyard workers at McManis Family Vineyards have been with the company for 20-plus years. Read More
The Latest
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
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Scouting Tips For Growing Grape Pest Thr…
Grape growers should be on the lookout this fall for two pests that are popping up in vineyards along the Read More
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Fou…
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Grapes
April 25, 2016
Vineyards Honored For Sustainability
California Green Medal recognizes wineries and vineyards with a focus on sustainability. Read More
Grapes
April 22, 2016
Spring Rains Could Increase Phomopsis An…
Areas that don't typically see many infections could be in for a surprise this year, thanks to a wetter spring. Here are some tips to keep these diseases at bay. Read More
Grapes
April 21, 2016
McManis Family Vineyards: Treating Emplo…
It’s no coincidence that more than half the full-time vineyard workers at McManis Family Vineyards have been with the company for 20-plus years. Read More
Grapes
April 21, 2016
Are Muscadine Grapes The Next ‘Super Fru…
UF/IFAS researchers are seeking to expand market, educate consumers. Read More
Grapes
April 20, 2016
Samuel Filler Named New York Wine & …
Filler will take over beginning in January, replacing long-time President Jim Trezise. Read More
Grapes
April 15, 2016
Using Wastewater For Vineyard Irrigation
New research shows wastewater could be a sustainable solution for irrigating vineyards. Read More
Grapes
April 15, 2016
Cornell Researcher Wins Award For Helpin…
Marc Fuchs receives the New York Wine & Grape Foundation 2016 Research Award for addressing and combating grapevine diseases. Read More
Grapes
April 7, 2016
New Technology Guides Vineyard Managemen…
VinSense LLC has received a grant from the National Science Foundation to fund expansion of a software program that helps growers make irrigation and other vineyard management decisions based on climate, weather, soil variation, and other factors. Read More
Grapes
April 7, 2016
New Program Helps Pennsylvania Vineyards…
Grape growers in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie basin are being invited to participate in a new program called VinES (Vested In Environmental Sustainability). The goal of the program is to reduce pollution into Lake Erie while increasing growers’ profitability. Read More
Grapes
March 31, 2016
Three Tips For Preventing Trunk Disease
Trunk disease can be avoided with proper preventative measures. It may require an investment of time and money upfront, but you’ll save on replanting costs in the long run.  Read More
Grapes
March 31, 2016
Pierce’s Disease-Resistant Grapes Coming…
Over the last 20 years, researchers have been working to develop new grapes resistant to Pierce’s disease. Now the varieties are nearing release. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]