Good Fruit Grower

May 15

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Page 12 of 55 GOOD FRUIT GROWER MAY 15, 2015 13 vineyard blocks, variability within the block, and the type of fruit their blocks can produce when making a match. For example, Sagemoor, because it's a warm location, is ideally suited for Cabernet. But variation within blocks will create dif- ferent styles of Cabernet and fruit won't be the same. Sagemoor has 900 acres of wine grapes planted at three sites, total- ing 91 blocks of grapes. "Even though we're a warm site, only 23 blocks are in Cabernet." 12-step program Growers have to find the business model that suits their personality, employees, and crop, he advised. "Those that have consistent soils can grow grapes for production purposes (high tonnage) in a low cost, efficient sys- tem tailored for the highest quality that the site allows," he said. Or, there's the route that Sagemoor has taken—growing premium fruit for a host of wineries. Waliser shared how growers can manage their vineyards for multiple wineries: 1. Know enough about wine to know that there can be different wine styles produced from the same block of grapes. 2. Your site has to be able to provide fruit for more than one wine style. 3. Learn about your site's style potential and find winemakers that like the wine style from your site. 4. Don't take rejection by a winery to mean that your site produces poor quality fruit. (However, be honest with yourself if that is the case.) 5. Engage your employees, especially those who have a good wine palate. Have your employees taste wines from your grapes and other locations. "Make as many wine growers as you can from your employees." 6. Study the market and learn the value of your fruit. Price your fruit relative to your costs. 7. Know what your cost of production is and get paid so you can be sustainable and profitable. Don't be embarrassed to use a processor's lien to get paid. 8. Make your business plan relative to you and your winery customers. "Most wineries aren't looking for excuses to leave unless you give them one." 9. Build business relationships on trust; keep your end of the bargain. 10. If you know what the winemaker wants done in the vineyard, do it before he or she asks for it. You'll stay way ahead of things that way. 11. Don't oversell your capacity (crop inventory) to a winery. Allocating grapes to winemakers is very difficult if you run short of fruit. 12. You have to be more than a grower; you must also be a businessperson. "And remember that everybody knows everybody in this industry." As a "bonus" tip, Waliser encouraged growers to be students of wine. Growers should buy wine from their winemakers and learn from drinking the wine. "Don't expect winemakers to give wine away for free. After all, you don't give your grapes to them for free." • COURTESY OF SAGEMOOR VINEYARDS Some vines at Sagemoor Vineyards, such as this one, are more than 40 years old and still producing.

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