Skip to main content

Reply to "Where Have All The Century-Old Vines Gone? (The Hidden Story)"

Originally posted by azprwb:
The life cycle/span of vines in the US is shortened in part because of overcropping year after year. Or so I'm told.

You can't eat your cake and have it too....

azprwb & Sticky2
You both ask about Life span. How long a vine will live depends on the conditions of it’s environment & care. In our area on the lighter soils a few years of abandonment or even marginal care can kill a vine as they & the weeds will dry the ground to the point their roots won’t support any life. (Wise dry farmers have to gauge our practices on the season to make the sure we produce grapes & survive the dry season, which is at least 4 to 9 months without rain) My father who passed away in 1984 was about to pull out the decrepit old vineyard would be amazed to walk it in 2007 because of my hands on labor the same vines look far healthier than they did in 1972 when he bought the place. If I don’t drop dead or quit – both serious possibilities right now, & there is no serious economic incentive to continue my diligence they’ll die or decline on a par with what ever input they get: 1 to 5 years? Baring the importation a non native invasive pest or urban invasion, most may be able to be pampered to produce great fruit another 90 years? The oldest vines are in the New World & are around 120.

OVER CROPPING: In the central valley where the under $5 dollar wine “California” appellation wine is grown, a grower planning to pull out the vines after harvest may indeed allow a giant crop & may under some circumstances sell it for something – usually not wine. Here in wine country to crop a vine to the point of killing it -well I have seen people do this, it takes only one season to kill a vine this way & the fruit comes down when the farmer pulls the vine out because nobody here would except such __crap_ to be nice.

Two notes on azprwb ‘s, comments: Wherever a grower is, to sell their grapes they must meet certain standards & it is simply not possible to meet quality standards & carry life threatening quantities of crop at the same time. * At Least Not On A Mature Vine! * It takes 4 to 7 years for a vine & it’s roots to come into full maturity & in the late 90’s during the big planting boom many tried push serious production on 2 to 3 year old vines. Hundreds of acres died tiring to make an early crop (and made 0). There absolutely is no incentive to do this!

In this area good standard vineyards can average 5 to 7.5 tons per acre. The high end stuff -$60 to $160+ Pinot Noirs & Cabernets are encouraged to stay below 4 tons but the top Quality Old Zinfandel which takes much more effort to farm average 0.5 to 2.5 tons per acre.

Vines must be in balance to give a good quality crop too much or to little is a problem.