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How to Start a Small Vineyard

Starting a vineyard is a big decision, and requires a lot of work, preparation and investment. The process is also a decision that is very rewarding on many levels, providing you with the opportunity to sell grapes in several forms—as wine, fresh fruit, dried fruit or preserves. A small vineyard is most beneficial for the first-time grower and demands less time, land and fewer employees. Make sure you're prepared for this commitment and remember key points when starting a vineyard.

Choose your grapes. The most common grapes are Vitis viniteria—for wines such as merlot, reisling, chenin blanc and pinot noir. These variations are used in 99 percent of vineyards across the world.

Find a piece of land for your vineyard. Make sure it's frost free with well-drained soil. Dry humidity, not a lot of rain and cool evening temperatures are ideal. Grapevines do not need a lot of fertilizer, and actually do well in poor soil.

Plant your vineyard and make sure you have an irrigation system. Having access to a water source allows you to maximize the production of your fruit harvest. Depending on how large your vineyard is, you may need to hire help.

Check your specific state's requirements for liquor and/or business licensing, filling out the necessary paperwork for your type of vineyard. Develop a business plan for what your needs are. For example, will you sell grapes or wine? Consider what type of advertising works for you.

Do your research to grow, care for and run your vineyard properly.

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