Good Fruit Grower

October 2016

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14 OCTOBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower Hedges Family Estates grafts Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot as a cost-effective option to replanting by Shannon Dininny W hen Hedges Family Estates wanted additional acreage planted in Cabernet Sauvignon to meet rising demand, the longtime wine grape growers and vintners on Washington's famed Red Mountain had a few options. One: Pull out a 25-year-old block of Merlot, drip irri- gated and planted to 10-foot-by-4-foot spacing. They could have replanted in 8-by-4-foot spacing, which would equate to more plants and a few more tons of fruit. But the cost of starting a Cabernet Sauvignon block from bare ground, which meant pulling out everything and reinstalling a new trellis system, was about $18,000 per acre. "Our accountant said, 'Find a better solution,'" Vineyard Manager John Gomez said. Option two: Spend about $6,500 per acre just to get everything clean, rather than remove the entire system, and replant. "The accountant said, 'Find something else,'" Gomez said. The best benefit, money-wise, and the option they Grafting provides 'A better solution' Grapes John Gomez of Hedges Family Estates talks about field grafting in the winery's Red Mountain vineyard near Benton City, Washington, in August. Gomez shared his experience with grafting Cabernet Sauvignon onto Merlot plants during a Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Field Day. PHOTOS BY SHANNON DININNY/GOOD FRUIT GROWER Cabernet Sauvignon grapes ripen on the vine at Hedges Family Estates.

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