Achieving a successful 30-year-old California wine grape vineyard is possible with smart decision making which can reap financial rewards from the longevity.

Five wine grape experts offered input on how to master a 30-year vineyard during a breakout session at the 2014 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium held in Sacramento, Calif. in late January.

A successful long-term wine grape vineyard investment starts with the vine, says James Stamp, principal, Stamp Associates Professional Viticulture Services, Sebastopol, Calif.

“The vine is the most important part of the vineyard,” Stamp said. “It sometimes gets left behind when planning a new vineyard.”

Vine quality and cleanliness are paramount, Stamp says. Yet his greatest concern about available vines today is the virus status of current materials.

Over the last year, Stamp says some California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)-certified nursery stock were found infected with red blotch virus and leafroll associated virus 3 which reduce the brix (sugar) level in wine grapes.

Stamp says CDFA certification is supposed to provide growers with the confidence that they are buying good plant material.

“The CDFA certification program does not work properly,” Stamp said. “You have to go to the trouble to test your own plant materials to determine its virus status.”

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Beyond the virus issue, Stamp’s second largest concern about vines is the physical quality of the vine. A plant with a high level of fungal pathogens is more likely to create poor graft unions or poor root systems which can limit the vine’s productive life expectancy.

Stamp says vines should be delivered on time to the grower with the requested rootstock and the exact quantity ordered.

If working with a nursery for vines, nursery sanitation is important. Stamp says work with a nursery which practices good sanitation. An operation with less dust reduces pathogen transfer through the air.

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness. If you see a nursery that looks clean then chances are the vines will be better quality,” Stamp concluded.