This post is dedicated to putting down some of the mistakes I've made starting a vineyard .... okay the title says I made a few. That's not accurate. I made a lot!!! But I also learned a lot. And I'm still making them. But I hope others can learn from the mistakes I've made.
So here goes ... in no particular order, but I am numbering them.
Mistake #1 Not well thought out site selection.
Okay every book, every powerpoint I've seen, every article I read, all say the same thing; one of the most important decisions when starting a vineyard is SITE SELECTION. In general, I did pretty well, but I definitely would have done some things different. I have a major frost pocket in the south east corner of my oldest vines. I had thought there was a place for the cold air to drain, but I was just not careful enough.
I also planted on a fairly steep hill side. This in general is good, but for a first time vineyard, it would have been a lot easier on a flatter area.
Mistake #2 Improper root trimming when planting
Do not trim roots on new vines that are about to be planted. Maybe this seems obvious to some of you. It seemed obvious to me. But early in my vineyard I went to a talk by a very knowledgable person who had many years growing grapes in this climate. He demonstrated that new vine roots should be severely prunned. I recall that demo very well. This was just before my first and second year of planting vines. I carefully headed that advise. In nearly every case, the severely prunned roots on new vines produced poorer growth. One year I evendid a more controlled experiment. In that year I pruned some roots severely, and some not. Almost with out exception the vines with more roots did better the first years, and in the second years too.
Mistake #3 Too small and shallow holes for new vines.
Dig very deep large holes for the vines. Again maybe this is obvious. But in the same demo the person said that they don't even dig a hole. They just use a T-shaped bar and make a small hole maybe only a foot deep at the most. Again I experimented. Again I got far superior growth and vine survival. with very large deep holes versus the small holes. In fact this year I used a post hole digger like I did in 2003. Growth this year easily surpassed any other year for first year vines.
Okay, I've only listed 3 mistakes so far.... I have a lots more. I will continue to roll these out over the next few days and weeks. I hope anyone that reads these learns from my mistakes, and does some of their own research on how to avoid them.