Do You Fertilize Vinefera Grapes?

Just as winemakers shake their heads when the affect of government on wine is discusses, so to do vineyard growers. I had the opportunity to talk to Ron Barrett, winegrower and winemaker at Kinkead Ridge Estate Winery in Ripley, Ohio. Ron mentioned that the state isn’t helpful when they make suggestions that winegrowers need to apply fertilizer to their grapes. Most likely the state doesn’t differentiate the growing of vinefera grapes from other grapes.

Do vinefera grapes even need fertilizer? When Kathy and I planted a row of Petit Manseng in an experimental vineyard in Maryland, we did not add any fertilizer. Even when I planted some Niagara and Dornfelder in my backyard, I did not add any fertilizer. Ron hasn’t added fertilizer to his vineyard that is thriving.

Perhaps if I were growing an acre of Concord and wanted to harvest 15 tons I might add some fertilizer. But tonnage from vinefera grapes is significantly less. Some winegrowers will add compost to the row of vines. This helps the soil. We did meet one grower that adds manure to a row. Several other compost manure with pumice and add the compost. But commercial fertilizer is another question. Do you add commercial fertilizer to your vineyard?



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