These “super big” vines were planted in an Oregon vineyard earlier this year.
Imagine the labor savings if you could plant and establish a new vineyard without staking, tying, training, suckering, or using protective cartons or tubes for the young vines. A vineyard development consultant is doing just that, planting “super big” vines while claiming to save super big money.
In the last few years, a handful of California and Oregon grape growers have begun planting tall—four to five feet—potted grapevines, a practice that started in Germany about 20 years ago, says Bill Henri of the Wm. Henri Development Company.
Henri describes the super big vine as “a greenhouse-grown bench graft,” but instead of a twelve-inch piece of rootstock (eight inches of rootstock in the ground with the graft union four to six inches above ground), the graft union is three feet off the ground. In the nursery, the tall vine is already attached to a stake and looks like a tree rose, with the graft union high in the air, he said during a phone interview with the Good Fruit Grower.
Last June, Henri planted a new, 150-acre vineyard with the tall grape plants in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, and he just finished prepping ground for another 200 acres of vines to be planted in the same manner. As a private consultant specializing in vineyard development, Henri has been involved in planting vineyards in Washington, Oregon, and California for 30 years, and also has winemaking experience. Henri has offices in Napa, California, and Roseburg, Oregon.
He sources what he calls the super big vines from Frank Lopez, a custom-order California nurseryman. Lopez was nursery manager for Sonoma Grapevines before striking out on his own.
Another California nursery that produces a 42-inch-tall vine is Duarte Nursery, headquartered near Modesto. Duarte markets their big vines under the UberVine name. While there is a big difference in price, the UberVine saves a year in vine establishment costs and might have particular potential in regions with short growing seasons, like Oregon and parts of Washington, said Duarte’s Michael Vietti, in a video on Duarte’s Web site.
“From the moment you plant the big vine, you’re already trained up the stake and growing down the wire,” said Henri. “There’s no stake pounding, tying, training, or suckering—that’s all done in the nursery. And the vine has two to three times the root mass as a regular potted bench graft, with more carbohydrate reserves in the wood.” He adds that once you dig a hole, put in the vine, and the clip the stake to the wire, “you’re good to go.”
One major advantage is that the big vines don’t need protective tubes or cartons because there’s no green tissue within reach of rodents or herbicide sprays, he said. “The green tissue is 34 to 36 inches off the ground, so you can spray Roundup