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What Should I Plant On A Steep Hillside?


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#1 bigadamsoy

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:03 PM

Our new vineyard site has a south-facing slope at the north end with a grade of around 10 - 15%. It's about 2 acres in all, with lots of granite and a bit of clay over a thick soft layer of chalk, so of course I want to plant some bush vines.
I'm looking for varietal suggestions. 3500-3700 GDD, highs in the 80's to low 90's, lows in the upper 50's. 5500 ft elevation. Dry.
Go!
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#2 bret

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:24 PM

I'd just plant some grapevines. :P

Seriously, though, I don't have the experience with that weather, but if I could, I'd try to grow some Nebbiolo. How would that do there? Maybe some Nero D'Avola?

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#3 bret

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:28 PM

Maybe make a Rioja with some plantings of Tempranillo and Grenache? Graciano?

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#4 gregorio

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:53 PM

10-15% slope is nothing! What is that 5-10 degrees?

Almost any red could grow well there. The thing that I'd worry about is the lack of water and soil conditions. Rootstock would be higher on my list of concerns. Have you thought about your potential market for these grapes? How does that influence your decision?
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#5 SLOweather

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 10:18 PM

Bush vines and "dry" says to me dry-farmed?

How about zinfandel on drought-tolerant rootstocks such as 110R, 140Ru, or 1103P? That's what we are looking at.

BTW, our slope is more like 30%.

#6 bigadamsoy

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:20 AM

10-15% slope is nothing! What is that 5-10 degrees?

Almost any red could grow well there. The thing that I'd worry about is the lack of water and soil conditions. Rootstock would be higher on my list of concerns. Have you thought about your potential market for these grapes? How does that influence your decision?


Not thinking about market at all. The other 35 acres of the vineyard are on a 2-3% slope, easily farmed mechanically, and being planted with marketable varieties. This one slope will be farmed by hand on foot (it's rocky!) with the goal of turning out something unique and authentic. Vines will be own-rooted and drip irrigated minimally (we get 15-18" rain per year).
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#7 tom h

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:45 AM

I was wondering how you were doing on that project. Are you planting this spring?
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#8 bigadamsoy

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:50 AM

Bush vines and "dry" says to me dry-farmed?

How about zinfandel on drought-tolerant rootstocks such as 110R, 140Ru, or 1103P? That's what we are looking at.

BTW, our slope is more like 30%.


Actually, our slope starts at around 10-15%, but gets considerably steeper until it turns into a roughly vertical wall of granite. Not sure how high I'll be able to go yet..
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#9 bigadamsoy

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:55 AM

I was wondering how you were doing on that project. Are you planting this spring?

Yep :D
Planting 10 acres in two-acre blocks this April.
4x7 spacing, subsurface drip irrigation. cleared the perennial surface vegetation over the winter. Now need to rip the rows, but waiting as long as I can comfortably wait, so as not to lose too much topsoil to the early spring winds.
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#10 Haoleguy

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 07:53 AM

Not exactly sure what your climate is like but I might consider a Greek red like agiorgitiko which grows at 2000 ft elevations in Nemea, Greece. I had the good fortune to visit this warm climate region and enjoyed the wines which can be structured to cellar for many years. I believe UC Davis FPS has in recently released this grape. Just some basic info here... http://www.newwineso...rgitiko_1.html. .....Gary

Edit - It may not yet be available. I just did a quick check of the FPS site.

#11 fmestas

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 10:53 AM

On a south facing slope in this location, the vines are gonna get toasty... So I'd go with a thick skinned grape. Mourvedre, Tempranillo or Cabernet are the varieties I have experience with that come to mind. I'd stay away from Grenache, Zin, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese etc as the intense afternoon sun will likely turn them to raisins.
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#12 bigadamsoy

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 09:11 PM

Thanks for the advice, all. I'm thinking I'll probably plant Mourvedre. It produces quality fruit in this climate, and it's grown successfully without trellising almost everywhere.
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#13 GEM

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 04:57 PM

I am planting on a steep site in San Diego and plan on head pruning all the Zin. I know it is harder, but it is almost impossible to work a trellis system on steep slopes. I have a hard time walking and my ATV can barely make it, so I will do almost everything on foot. I am putting them on polls 5 x 5, 220 vines. Hope this helps, as I have thought and thought about this for some time. I think being able to work on them, i.e. prune, spray, harvest, etc., dictated my choice. Best of luck.

Gary
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#14 Chano Aguayo

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:52 PM

Big Adam, Plant whatever you want that grows in your area or experiment with varieties you like. Plant a few vines outside of the vineyard for trials and if they produce what you like, then you can transplant or plant what gave you good results. As far a you being told of your crop getting toasty, come to the San Joaquin Valley of California and you will see the "California Sprawl" system used extensively to protect the clusters whether for raisins or table grapes. The most important aspects of growing a good crop without clusters getting damaged from sunburn is a good canopy managment program, period. Honestly, I cnsider myself an expert in canopy management regardless of row orientation for most vinifera varieties in my area. Thanks.

Chao
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#15 DesertDance

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:50 PM

I am a fan of head training, especially on hillsides! Zin is the easiest one, I think. Mourvedre? Give it a whirl!




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