What to Know Before You Plant

Whether you're planting acres of vineyards or a few vines in your backyard, there are simple tests and checks that will ensure you select the right vines for your project. It's all about site analysis. The more you know, the more your vines will thrive.

The French call it terroir, pronounced "ter-whah". Terroir is a way of describing the unique aspects of a place that influences and shapes the wine made from it.

Here's what you need to consider when assessing your site - Soil, Sun, and Water

know side

Soil - What type of soil will you be planting in?

  • Soil types
  • Loam
  • Clay
  • Sandy
  • Rocky
  • Combination
  • Water holding capacity and drainage
  • Soil fertility

How to: It can be as simple as digging down 12 to 24 inches, putting a soil sample in a plastic bag, and sending it to a soils laboratory for analysis. Sunridge can recommend several excellent soils labs.

Sun exposure - how much sun, shade, wind affects your site

  • Full or partial sun
  • Shade
  • Wind

How to: Take an account of your site - the trees on the property, how tree roots might affect your planting site, how much wind your site is exposed to.

Water - what's in it influences the success of your vines

  • Chemistry - nutrient levels

How to: Pour approximately 12 ounces of water in a bottle or jar and take it to a water analysis laboratory or your local water agency. Important things to test for are boron and iron levels which can be toxic to your vines.

Once you've learned more about the soil, sun, and water at your site, you can now make educated decisions about what to plant. The result will be healthy, vigorous grape vines.

Did you know? Why mustard and roses?

  • The mustard seed plants you see blooming in the vineyards are there to help add vital supplements to the soil.
  • Roses planted at the end of the vine rows are there to give early warning of mildew problems.