Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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12 MAY 15, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER F or nearly 30 years, Sagemoor Vineyards sold its grapes to one winery. Then it sold to seven different wineries, and today, more than 80, a transition that required a change in business models, hard work, and lots of people and man- agement skills to deal with that many winemakers. Kent Waliser's first year as general manager of Sagemoor Farms and Vineyards in 2002 was also the first year that the Pasco, Washington, tree fruit and wine grape growing company began selling to more than one winery. That first year, fruit from Sagemoor's famed Bacchus Vineyard, an 11-acre block planted in 1972, was sold to seven wineries. Sagemoor, founded in 1968, has some of the oldest large-scale wine grape plantings in Washington State. Several producing blocks are more than 40 years old and have no "pull date," says Waliser. Fruit from Bacchus is sold on an acreage basis, with annual production varying from 2.5 to 3.5 tons per acre, depending on the winemaker. In the early 2000s, most of the vineyard irrigation systems at Sagemoor were converted from overhead sprinklers to drip. Bacchus Vineyard vines are spaced eight feet apart with ten feet between rows. Sagemoor Vineyards vines are located in a freeze-free zone where they have never required retraining from the ground up due to winter damage. When vines are replaced, a propagation technique called layering is used in which a cane or shoot grows roots while still attached to the parent vine. The shoot is trained up next to the parent and later detached to create a new, independent vine. Layering allows the new vine to feed off the parent while developing its own root system. It's no small feat to successfully overhaul a business strategy and cater to 80 different customers, many in the same small block. Waliser shared his approach in changing the company's business model and outlined key steps to successfully sell to multiple wineries during a winter meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Managing variation Minimizing variability within a block is important when there are multiple wineries receiving fruit, he said. "We had to split the block into manageable units so we could vary harvest dates and manage differently within the block. It doesn't work if you are picking on the same date across the block for different wineries." Waliser says that matching the winery's style of wine to the right management unit within the block is a criti- cal step growers must take to develop long-term winery relationships. Winemakers are individualists and have different styles and place importance on different things. "It's much easier to match wine grape varieties to a site than it is matching winemakers to the site." Growers need to have intimate knowledge of their 12 TIPS for selling to multiple wineries Grapes Growers must be matchmakers when selling to wineries. by Melissa Hansen "It's much easier to match wine grape varieties to a site than it is matching winemakers to the site." —Kent Waliser Call us FIRST for the largest selection of trees and rootstocks available Future contracts for cherries, pears, & apples; ALL ROOTSTOCKS. NEW APPLE rootstock! 1-800-421-4001 Phone: 503-538-2131 Fax: 503-538-7616 E-mail: Web: INC. Representing Over 30 Leading Nurseries in the U.S. and Europe From the breeders of Bud 9: • Vigor between M-9 T337 and M-9 Pajam®2 • Yield efficiency similar to M-9 T337 • Dwarfing • Cold hardy • Disease resistant • Fireblight tolerant B10 ® cv. Mich 96 USPP 21,223 Services are FREE TO GROWERS!

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