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The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes
     

The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes

by Tom Powers
 

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Interest in wine shows no signs of slowing down—wine tours, tastings, and vacations are now common and homeowners often have space dedicated to their collection. The logical next step? Learning to grow and make your own.

In The Organic Backyard Vineyard expert Tom Powers walks the small grower through the entire process of growing grapes, with a

Overview

Interest in wine shows no signs of slowing down—wine tours, tastings, and vacations are now common and homeowners often have space dedicated to their collection. The logical next step? Learning to grow and make your own.

In The Organic Backyard Vineyard expert Tom Powers walks the small grower through the entire process of growing grapes, with a month-by-month maintenance guide covering all regions of the U.S. and Canada. He explains everything a beginning grape grower needs to know: how to design and build a vineyard, how to select grapes for each region, how to maximize yield using organic maintenance techniques, how to build a trellis, how to harvest at peak flavor, and how to store grapes for winemaking.This edition includes organic growing information and all new photography.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
"In simple, straightforward, yet extremely knowledgeable terms, Powers takes home gardeners through the logical steps in planning, implementing, and maintaining a home vineyard... a good bottle of wine may now be as close as their own backyard."

The East Oregonian

"In simple, straightforward, yet extremely knowledgeable terms, Powers takes home gardeners through the logical steps in planning, implementing, and maintaining a home vineyard... a good bottle of wine may now be as close as their own backyard."

DoItYourself.com

"Wine lovers who dream of planting vines at home, whether they have room for one acre or a single row, will find valuable advice in [The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes].Emphasizing ecologically sound practices, author Tom Powers carefully maps out the steps would-be vignerons should consider to ensure success."

Natural Home and Garden

“This book is absolutely packed with solid information on where to begin, what you need and how to do it.”
Wine Spectator

“Learn how to design and build a backyard vineyard, select the best grapes for your region, use the latest organic techniques and store the bounty for winemaking.”

From the Publisher

“Wine lovers who dream of planting vines at home, whether they have room for one acre or a single row, will find valuable advice in a new book, The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes. Emphasizing ecologically sound practices, author Tom Powers carefully maps out the steps would-be vignerons should consider to ensure success.” —Wine Spectator
 
“. . . . everything that the novice grower needs to know about planting their own vineyard.” —Do It Yourself
 
“Learn how to design and build a backyard vineyard, select the best grapes for your region, use the latest organic techniques and store the bounty for winemaking.” —Natural Home and Garden
 
“In simple, straightforward, yet extremely knowledgeable terms, Powers takes home gardeners through the logical steps in planning, implementing, and maintaining a home vineyard. . . . a good bottle of wine may now be as close as their own backyard.” —Booklist
 
“This book is absolutely packed with solid information on where to begin, what you need and how to do it.” —East Oregonian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781604692853
Publisher:
Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/12/2012
Pages:
188
Sales rank:
546,893
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt


Preface
Vineyards have been around for a very long time. Maps of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and Gaul all show vineyards. The Babylonian legend The Epic of Gilgamesh refers to wine as far back as 6000 years ago. The Romans were so fond of wine that they had a god, Bacchus, devoted solely to the fermented juice of the grapevine. In fact, the Romans did a great deal to advance winemaking in Europe, a tradition that was taken up by the French, Italians, and Germans. Early Americans were quick to plant vineyards in the new world, notably Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. Nowadays, there are thousands of vineyards in almost every state and province of North America.

Since the 1970s, winemaking in both Europe and America (and many other regions around the world) has become a science as well as an art, with plenty of opinions and theories about all aspects of growing grapes and making wine. It’s true that for premium quality wine, you need good grapes. But many growers and winemakers complicate the process of grape-growing.

As a partner in a vineyard planting and maintenance operation, I have directed the development of more than 100 vineyards, many of them small backyard operations. This first-hand experience has taught me that it is possible to grow grapes organically, provided you work with the natural resources at hand rather than trying to fight against them. My purpose in writing this book is to simplify the process so that an individual with the right conditions can build and manage a vineyard in a sustainable fashion to produce premium quality grapes.

I come from a long line of farmers. My maternal grandfather, Thomas W. Mabrey, settled in the Imperial Valley of California on the Mexican border, raising cotton in 1911 and later starting a dairy farm that supplied milk to the Golden State Creamery. My paternal grandparents, Thomas W. Powers and Ida Powers, were orange growers in Florida starting in 1910. I can think of no better life than that of a grower caring for the land and its bounty.
 
The chapters in this book follow roughly the same step-by-step sequence that you will follow in building your vineyard, from the planning stages, through the installation process, and finally to harvest time.

Throughout the book I refer to one scientific process—photosynthesis—which is the means by which the green tissues of plants use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide (CO2), an atmospheric gas, to sugar. This is important because the sugars are the basic building blocks of the components that ultimately give wine its flavor.

Much of the work in the vineyard is devoted to maximizing photosynthesis. That’s why proper management of the green canopy of the plants is the most important issue that I can stress in caring for your vines.

Yet please remember that grapevines are very forgiving. If you have the right amount of sun, water, soil, and other basic requirements, even if you make a mistake and pinch or break off the wrong shoot, leaf, or berry, don’t worry. There will almost always be one that grows back. Be patient with your vines, take care of your soil, and practice good vineyard management, and your vineyard will reward you with good-quality fruit year after year.

Planting a vineyard is a dream for many people who have even a small amount of land. I hope this book helps you to grow your own vineyard, and that the experience is enormously satisfying, only rarely frustrating, and never boring. Enjoy.
 

Meet the Author

Tom Powers operates Alhambra Valley Ranch, a 58-acre sustainable family farm in western Contra Costa County, California. The farm is located on the urban edge, between Martinez, Orinda, Pinole, and Richmond. It produces grapes for wine, olives for oil and curing, and summer vegetables, including the best-tasting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes in the world. On two hillside pastures Powers raises goats, sheep, llamas, and emus. Many of the animals are retired or rescued farm animals, but the sheep and goats have become another business element of the ranch.

Alhambra Valley was once filled with orchards and wine grapes before Prohibition (1919 to 1933), with such well-known farmers as John Muir and John Swett. Powers started his farm in 1998 and since 1999 has planted hundreds of backyard vineyards in Contra Costa and surrounding counties under the name of Diablo Vineyard Planting and Management. In 2005 he revived the historic grape-growing and wine-making tradition by starting a small commercial winery on his farm. His varietal wines and blends are sold directly to friends, neighbors, stores, and restaurants.

He has also added more farm products and processing activities, including a greenhouse operation so that he can get his prize Cherokee Purple tomatoes to market in May instead of July.

These activities constitute the fourth or fifth career for this former attorney, county supervisor, realtor, and consultant. However, Powers is from a long line of farmers, including his grandfather who started one of the first farms in the Imperial Valley in 1910.

Tom Powers was awarded Contra Costa County’s Sustainable Farming Individual of the Year award in 2009. In addition to the ranch, he runs the Alhambra Valley Olive Oil Company and Alhambra Valley Wine Company and chairs the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust Board and the Contra Costa County Agricultural Advisory Board.

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