Starting your first vineyard is by no means a simple task, even with lashings of passion, and the sheer scale of such a project can quickly overwhelm even the most dedicated winemaker. A successful vineyard requires not only patience and a firm understanding of viticulture, but a suite of equipment perfectly suited for the job – and it’s this last aspect that people often confuse in their plans or budget, or forget about entirely. In this article we examine some of the more common equipment needs for a new vineyard and how this relates to vine spacing, as it’s important to keep in mind that no vineyard can be a one-size-fits-all approach. Read on to get up to speed with what you need to succeed in the world of wine!
How your equipment relates to your vineyard
If you spot a second-hand tractor in Gumtree or the local paper and think it might be perfect for your vineyard (perhaps it’s going for extra cheap!), take a moment to really consider the dimensions of the tractor in relation to your rows of vineyards. Or, if you can borrow a neighbours tractor a few times a year, you should absolutely ask them for the dimensions of their vehicle. If your tractor is two metres wide, your rows should be at least three metres wide, and if you plan on using an ATV with a sprayer on the back, there should be no problem with it zooming down the row – vine guards can only do so much to protect your plants, so running over wayward shoots will do you no favours. Thinking about all of your equipment needs is evidently an ideal way to save you a lot of headaches (and backaches) later on when you find your equipment can’t actually fit through the previously designed vine spacing. There is a flip-side however – If equipment isn’t high on your priority list, or you plan on using a non-mechanical approach, packing vines in makes more sense in terms of overall land efficiency.
Deciding on a vine-row spacing layout
When you’re considering how to initially plant your vines in relation to your equipment, the spacing itself is highly reliant on how vigorous the grapevines are in relation to your specific soil, climate and area. In an especially vigorous vineyard providing upwards of 3 metres of shoot growth per year, make sure to space vines at least 2 metres apart, while also maintaining rows as wide as the vines are tall. With less vigorous vineyards you shouldn’t need to have as much room between plants, but it’s still important to have the rows as wide as they are high. If having a vigorous vineyard sounds especially appealing due to the output of the fruit, it’s a good idea to consider the extra time need to actually take care of the vines. The more vines you have to prune, position, trellis, spray and tend, the more time you’ll have to sink into tending to your vineyard, and if it’s a hobby for you it might not be all its cracked up to be.
Knowing how to properly apply row spacing and equipment
Working out the finer details with aspects related to row planting is actually more complex than it might first appear – although there is always a desire to plant as much as possible in a limited space, not considering how this related to fully-grown vines and the equipment you have on hand can spell trouble in the long-term.