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.
Beach Bums lose, 5-2
Goose Kallunki drove in three runs Friday night as Joliet beat the Traverse City Beach Bums 5-2 in a Frontier League season opener.Continued ...
Ag Forum: Chestnuts a growing market
Various species of chestnut are found in Michigan — naturally in the landscape, in green spaces as ornamentals and also planted in orchards for nut production.Continued ...
Priest uses big rig to make special deliveries
Father Ray Cotter delivers more than sermons. Two weeks ago, the former truck truck driver turned priest drove a semi-tractor-trailer rig to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., to pick up 1,164 free military computers for use in Michigan Catholic schools in the dioceses of Lansing, Saginaw, Gaylord and Marquette.Continued ...
TC Central girls repeat as regional track champs
The defending regional champion Trojans repeated, dusting the competition at Friday’s Division 1 meet at Central High School for a 70-point win over second place Alpena.Continued ...
Powerball ticket buyers hopeful as jackpot swells
Garrick Opie hasn’t purchased a Powerball ticket in more than a decade. But a jackpot that swelled to $600 million — the world’s second largest lottery prize — by Friday afternoon convinced Opie to throw in $20 toward the $2 tickets at the 7-Eleven store on 14th Street.Continued ...
Letters to the Editor: 05/18/2013
A positive revision; What a legislature.Continued ...
Co-worker of fired tribal employees: ‘They should have known better’
A co-worker of the six tribal employees who shot a .22 rifle off their office building deck alleged they endangered a nearby residence, potentially polluted Lake Michigan with lead bullets, and violated human resources policy.Continued ...
Mental Wellness: Dealing with difficult people
There was a time when I really enjoyed conflict. I don’t mean between people, but I felt like social change almost always happened when people stood up for their beliefs. This also was during a period in my life when my hair was dyed like a leopard.Continued ...
TC Central boys win track regional by 3½ points
In terms of drama, one couldn’t have asked for much more from the boys side of the Division 1 track regional Friday at TC Central.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: Rayders clinch LMC golf title
Charlevoix clinched the Lake Michigan Conference golf championship Friday after winning the final league meet at Antrim Dells.Continued ...
Body & Soul in Brief: 05/18/2013
Lupus meeting; cancer survivor picnic; Lyme disease support group; and more.Continued ...
Jury: Local attorney committed fraud
A jury ruled a local attorney committed fraud and malpractice in a case of a business deal gone bad.Continued ...
Man facing sex charges
A Traverse City man who faces child abuse and criminal sexual conduct charges also is accused of attempting to assault authorities who tried to arrest him.Continued ...
Area Blood Drives: 05/18/2013
Find a blood drive in the area:Continued ...
You're Needed: 05/18/2013
Organizers of the Art Rapids! fair to be held in June in Elk Rapids are seeking host families for some of the artists who will be participating in the event.Continued ...
Model airplanes take off today in Thompsonville
If you’re in Thompsonville today, look up. Model airplane enthusiasts say you’ll be in for a treat.Continued ...
Perspectives: Structuring a balanced life as we age
Whether we realize it or not, we all live within “structure.” Sometimes it becomes too limiting or too confining. This can be physical, emotional and spiritual.Continued ...
Trial scheduled for sex crime suspect
A Kalkaska man who faces 16 counts of criminal sexual conduct is scheduled to appear in court.Continued ...
Ex-local resident on 'Wheel of Fortune'
A former Frankfort resident will appear on the national game show “Wheel of Fortune.”Continued ...
Claudia Schmidt comes home to Sleder's
Claudia Schmidt will perform in an “On the Porch” concert at Sleder’s Family Tavern on Sunday, May 19.Continued ...
Record-Eagle Honor Roll Track Girls Listings: 05/18/2013
Following are the top girls listings for the Record-Eagle Honor Roll track and field meet on May 28 at TC Central.Continued ...
Health Newsmakers: 05/18/2013
In June, Barbara McIntyre, Ph.D., ATR-BC, LPC, will present the paper “Grief Expression and Healing Through Art” at the 44th annual American Art Therapy Conference in Seattle.Continued ...
Community Newsmakers: 05/18/2013
David Barr and Beth Dwaihy-Barr will be honored at the Legacy Gala on Saturday, June 15 at the Novi Civic Center in Novi.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 05/18/2013
Moyers' interview on climate; Short's kick-off party; chamber music on IPR; and more.Continued ...
Education Newsmakers: 05/18/2013
TC Central High School Freshman, Taylor Weckstein, has been named Distinguished Finalist in the 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Michigan for the creation of her charitable organization Giving 1 Family at a Time (G.1.F.T).Continued ...
- Beach Bums lose, 5-2