Does anybody have them, and how do you set it up with permaculture?
I've been researching, and this is what I've found out.
There are two basic models for a permaculture vineyard that I've been able to find.
1. Rows of vines with grass growing in between the rows.
Advantages a) Allows for a healthy micro environment in the grass same as on a good pasture or no till crop system.
b) Animals can be grazed on the grass strips. Chickens can be used threw out the year. Other animals can be used during the vines dormant period.
c) Can be cut down low before winter frosts to reduce chance of frost on grapes. All the experts seem to agree that low grass or bare ground is best for preventing frost damage to grapes on the vines. The grass can be grazed down low, or clipped with a mower with the clippings going under the vines as a mulch, or even harvested as hey/straw.
d) While technically a mono crop of grapes, the grass can be planted with many species of grass, clover, and nitrogen fixing legumes. This would reduce the risks of mono crop agriculture and benefit the land.
Disadvantages a) Clipping the grass down low to prevent frost damage may inhibit micro habitat. Not an issue if you're in an area that does not get frosts until after October grape harvests.
2. Rows of vines with edible plants growing between the rows.
Advantages a) You can grow food in otherwise unused space. Great if you have a limited space.
b) Would be less of a mono crop. Multi species of plants would reduce the chance of disease, pests, etc.
c) You could grow nitrogen fixing plants such as beans, peanuts, other legumes, or even dycon radish to help break up the soil for increased water permeability.
a) You wouldn't be able to graze animals between the rows. You could run chicken wire, and graze chickens between the vines, and vegetables, but that would be a real pain in the arse.
b) Food garden wouldn't get much sunlight after grape vines start filling out and growing leaves.
Other considerations. The land you have to work with. 1. I was looking at a property yesterday that I wouldn't want to make an acre worth of vines in one spot. I would want to keep the oak bunches intact as areas to graze my heritage breed pigs, and the pastures open to graze cows. It has rocky graggy hilly areas here and there threw out the property on south facing grade. I would use those areas. Grapes seem to do well on rocky junk soil that is not good for other crops or pasture. Bad soil quality forces them to grow the roots deep into the soil. From what I've read, that's what make some of the best Pinot noir. There is no such thing as a good Pinot noir. It's either great or terrible. If you can grow a great Pinot noir, you can grow a great any wine variety. I would fence these areas off and after the grapes begin to ripen, I would cover them with bird netting. They would be small patches scattered all over the place. This would probably also decrease any problems associated with mono cropping.
2. Last week, I was looking at a couple properties that were pretty wide open pasture. So open, that I would have to plant oak trees for my pigs to get acorns. This would be too easy to just make an acre vineyard. Rectangular, square, triangle, whatever shape the land would allow figuring for contour, water run off, areas where I would want to create swales for orchards, ponds, etc. One of them has some steep rocky terrain, but it may be too steep, and the other looks like it gets a lot of rain runoff, and may be too soggy for part of the year. Both properties have been open range grazing land. No permaculture in sight. They both have visible signs of erosion. This can be repaired with some intensive grazing, and letting the land come back, then more intensive grazing, creating small damns with rocks in seasonal streams, swales, etc.
I never thought about starting a vineyard till recently. At first, I was only thinking about growing a few vines to make my own wine, and some table grapes to sell at the roadside stand. The more I researched, the more it seemed like a good idea. There is some good money in it, if you can do it well, and I think I would be a fool not to try. Especially since I'm planning on getting land in the Cali central valley Sierra foothills around or under 1200'. It comes down to diversification. Not having all your apples in one basket. Better to have many baskets, and oranges, and grapes, and pecans, and blueberries, and raspberries, and, and, and, etc too!!!
I searched this sight for permaculture vineyard. I didn't find much. If anyone has some links, suggestions, stuff to add to the above, etc, I would appreciate it.
Chris D. : Thanks for Starting and sharing this Forum Thread. It is surprising that No one started it sooner. Diversification of Any kind is good, opening up new
guilds, and moving away from a mono crop setting all good, terracing and swales on contours should work well for you.
A couple of thoughts, 1) Ground cover to protect your early earth re-forming projects to prevent erosion , and 2) grass and what happens when you cut it !
The amount of plant mass above the grounds surface is generally equal to the amount of root mass below. What happens in grass and many other plant species
when you cut or mow your grass is a plant regulated die back of the root mass so that it is again in balance with the mass above ground, so every time the grass
is cut or eaten you end up increasing the amount of new plant materials/humus that was automatically shed from the root ball.
this happens over and over again as your grass both sheds mass and re-uptakes the plant materials to increase the plant mass.
This is what we are practicing when we use chop and drop tactics to "Weed'' of gardens ! So - definitely grass between rows will actually work to increase the soils
fertility and help protect against ground erosion !
Hope this was clear and made sense - For the Good of the Crafts ! Big AL
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
My vineyards are planted along fence-lines. The vines pretty much shade out anything trying to grow underneath them. Maybe... Perhaps other plants are suppressed by the walnut leaves that I rake up to mulch the grapes with. I sure generate a lot of walnut weedlings that way. One of my vineyards is a vegetable garden on one side of the fence, and grass on the other. It grows fine that way. Some of my grapes grow on high tension wire. Others grow primarily on trees. Either way works fine. The white-flies find the grape leaves regardless of where they are growing. The spiders make nests inside the clusters whether they grow on a wire or on a tree. My most productive grape planting is on a fence between two cement driveways. It isn't watered, but the slightest sprinkle runs off and they get plenty of water.
I typically harvest grapes starting in August and extending into October. I'm mostly growing table grapes and not wine grapes. Table grapes make great wine... But then I'm not interested in making any particular flavor of wine. I only care that it doesn't taste like tannin and that it imparts sufficient buzz.
Grapes are not the most perishable item that I take to market, but they are near the top of the perishable scale. I sell out of them quickly when I take them. I pick directly into berry baskets in order to minimize handling because jostling degrades quality quickly.... I grow only great tasting grapes that pop with flavor... No caricatures of grapes for me. It's real honest flavor and sweetness or nothing.
I have vineyards at different elevations (maximum difference 1400 feet), and I grow a wide range of varieties with different maturity dates in order to spread out the harvest of table grapes as much as possible. I might get two pickings -- a week apart -- from any specific variety in a specific field, but between the different fields I can take any particular variety to market for about 5 weeks. I don't mind if the wine grapes all mature at the same time.
Hi, Chris. Are your grapes already planted? If not, consider whether planting in rows is desirable. Vineyards are traditionally planted in rows to facilitate harvest, pruning, covering, and other aspects of care when tending to hundreds or thousands of nearly identical plants. But that's a monoculture, even if you interplant with other things, and it will invite pests, disease, etc. to proceed as efficiently down the rows as you do.
An alternative would be to plant one or two vines on a tree or artificial trellis separated from other grapes by other trees and plants. You as caretaker would be forced to treat this little clump of grapes as individuals rather than members of an identical class, but so would the pests and diseases. Just a thought.
Here in eastern Kansas (a much more humid climate than California, especially this year), I've found that planting feverfew by my grapes helps to keep the mealybugs off. I'm not sure what the feverfew does -- most likely attracts a predator I can't see -- but it is amazingly effective. Years when the feverfew dies (since it can't tolerate drought like the grapes do), I get mealybugs; when it survives, no mealybugs. YMMV. Good luck!
Okay, so I've been looking for idea for planting a variety of wine grapes on my property this year. I've been slowly beginning the transformation of my 1.38 acre property to a permaculture designed landscape which so far has included building a 4 foot high by 50 foot long Hugelkultur bed and beginning to plant some fruit trees in guilds. One thing I'm really keen on having is enough grapes to feed my appetite for wine as well as my other half's and our friends and even neighbors. The property already has a large concord like seeded grape vine in the backyard that with a little love will produce even better. There is also a number of vines stretching out to about 60 feet along the road on the edge of our property. These grapes while good for juice and making preserves are really poor wine grapes, and the seeded part makes for only decent eating. So I'm looking to either remove the grapes along the road and replant as well as planting some along the road further to the north or just planting another row or two of grapes.
Typically planting in rows isn't a strong element in permaculture design, but seems to be the way planting grapes for wine is done in every commercial and hobbyist vineyard I've been able to find. I'm not looking to have a huge amount of vineyard on the property, and I'm operating with the understanding that 100 ft. of mature grape vines can produce up to 150 bottles of wine each year, which would be more than enough. So the ideas in this thread seem to be formed around the idea that the monoculture of grapes can be lessened rather being a prime example of permaculture design.
My ideas so far are likely to be using my chicken tractors/moveable coops between the couple of rows of grapes that I will be planting. The ground cover between the rows and even under the grapes will be more along the lines of companion planting which would include clover, legumes, peas, and possibly some grass. These will help feed the chickens as well as affix nitrogen to the soil, but outside of the area the chicken tractors will be running on and under the grapes I want to have basil, clover, oregano, hyssop, and onions. Trying to add as much diversity as possible, but realizing it's less permaculture and wondering if anyone is doing anything much different from my ideas or the rest of the ideas in this thread?
Perhaps I can consider using the grapes along more of the edge of my property or perhaps I'm going too grape crazy. In any case if there's anyone doing more higher level permaculture design for growing their wine grapes I'd love to hear about what you're doing and ideas you have.
I am just starting but I've planted a fair number of grapes so far. I have some under my standard sized fruit trees. I do not plan to grow any grapes up any dwarfing fruit tree. I also have them planted along a fence we have and those ones are doing fabulously. I haven't yet, but will be building several pergolas and my plan for the roof on all of them is vining plants, so I will be planting grapes there, along with some other vines. My first grapes were planted in rows, then moved to the trees. I say experiment with a few different methods and see what works best for you.
It's really hard to find information on whether a specific vine is a cane or spur fruiting type, but if it is a spur fruiting type, it CAN be grown as a standalone bush, which opens up all sorts of design possibilities. It needs support to reach the desired height, but then you let the vines trail down, like a weeping cherry.
Another thing to consider if you want a polyculture (permaculture > polyculture in my view) is to put up your grape trellis and use it to support many fermentables. Cane berries, arctic kiwi, espaliered fruit trees, and then polyculture the heck out of the understory. The California vineyards I remember had loads of mustard in the spring, and roses as trap plants at the ends of rows. Don't forget rose hip wine!.
If you are growing for more than just your household use, do not underestimate the desirability of an easy harvest. Gathering in grapes at peak harvest for wine making has to happen fast, and if you have a crew, you can't be sending them on a treasure hunt. Well you can, but you probably can't afford to hire the expertise to do the job right, if you could find the crew with the knowledge.
Strongly recommend The Permaculture Orchard video, for ideas about scaling up. Yes it's about trees, but you are already thinking about modifying the template to the orchard setting.
If I ever have another piece of land to plant, I'm going to try something different: two rows of trees close together, with a wider alley in between. Polyculture the narrow lane for foot traffic, keep the wider lane for pulsing animals through, and vehicular access for bins of fruit in the fall. Kind of a hybrid of the two models the OP describes.
ETA: Chickens throughout the year is likely going to be an issue for any commercial enterprise with food safety regulations. Like all things, it depends on who's interpreting it, but no manure in the fields for 90 days prior to harvest for picked fruit, 120 for things like salad greens, a hardnose is going to interpret that in the most draconian sense. So plan for an area to move the birds to as needed. I'm planting a summer mulberry-based pasture just for that.
I'm kinda trying to do my vineyard in a permaculture way. I have started last year, so my experiences are pretty poor yet. I have some 700 vines, on trellises (VSP system), planted gradually in last 4 years .. I have chosen interspecific varieties (called PIWIs in European literature), so chemical protection against mildew can be minimized. Rows under-vine are mulched by different material (leaves, grass, hay, straw, compost, horse manure) so far, not tilled. Under-vine rows will be planted by several species of aromatic perrenials (sage, lavander, mint, hyssop etc.) in the future as a living mulch and also for harvest). Inter-rows are cover-cropped with grass (as a result of natural succession ..) Last year I started to pasture the geese in inter-rows with very good results.
We have a small permculture vineyard and I have found that blackberries and grapes explode when planted together. I have some canes that are 7-8 ft tall after I already trimmed a third of it off! The grapes have also taken off marvelously. I will note that in areas with heavy wet seasons be prepared for black rot in normal varieties of grapes. Muscadines do not appear to have any trouble with this though. I have used organic copper spray and it seems to work. I actually need to spray this month to reduce it for Spring. We use Chester blackberries and they are amazing with the grapes. You can also use wild (or cultivated) vetch or clover in between the rows to boost nitrogen to the plants. We have an over abundance of vetch in the Spring so we do sow any legumes hardly at all.
We also have a young small kiwi yineyard we are experimenting with. Anna and Meader are doing excellent growth wise, they just bud really early. In more loamy soils currants and gooseberries may be a great companion for kiwi, but for us it hasn't taken well to the clay it seems.
Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly first. Just look at this tiny ad: