Seven – viticulture practices (farm plan)

Additional viticultural practices are often required to produce higher quality wine grapes for wineries which want produce premium grapes. Some of these practices - shoot thinning and leaf pulling, for example – can be outside of the grower’s normal, customary farming practices.

Wineries sometimes want a specific farm plan spelled out in the contract which specifies the required viticultural practices.

DiBuduo said, “A farm plan is fine as long as the winery and grower jointly agree to it. The grower should be financially compensated to cover the costs of the additional viticulture practices.”

Growers should include costs increases for the practices over the life of the contract.

Eight – harvest and delivery

The contract should state whether the grapes will be harvested by hand or machine. While both parties have agreed to machine harvest the grapes in the past, it does not mean that is the expectation in the future. Get this in writing.

The agreement should also specify the types of containers to transport grapes to the winery.

“We’ve had growers who delivered grapes in containers, only to find out the winery could not handle the containers in terms of size or format,” Bitter said. “When the truck showed up at the winery, both parties looked at each other bewildered. There was a major lack of communication.”

The certified weight of the crop can also be an issue. Some wineries do not have a certified scale. The grower must utilize an independent scale on the way to the winery and on the way back to gain the actual weight of the grape load.

“The grower and the buyer should make sure issues like this are understood upfront so there is no misunderstanding,” Bitter said.