Is the old adage one gallon of wine per vine true? I have a small lot
and would like to plant enough to make a carboy (6 gallon/23L) per
year. About how many vines would I need? And, am I looking at about
4 years from putting the vines in the ground to picking my first grape?
You are looking at about 3 years to get your first
small harvest. Your yield will depend on variety
and how you crop them. I have learned that it
does no good to have large crop load to produce
extremely week bodied wine. For some varieties a
more realistic yield would be somewhere around 8
to 10 lbs per vine without overcropping. This
would mean that that to make 6 gallons of wine
you need about 75 lbs of grapes so you can back
calculate how many vines you need.
Some variables that you have to consider;
* Where you are - upper midwest versus California kind of thing.
* White versus red - reds tend to press out at more wine per ton due to
* Variety - there are noticeable differences in cluster weight between
* Pruning and spacing - how you space your vines and how they are
pruned significantly affect per-vine production.
I am in the Sierra Foothills of northern california. I have 170 vines
spaced 10x6, vertical shoot positioning trellising and spur pruning.
The Syrah and Marsanne yield around 8 pounds per vine, sometimes a
little more - but I thin in pursuit of quality versus quantity. It
would probably be pretty easy to push that up to 10 pounds per vine. My
Cabernet Sauvignon produce less weight per vine (smaller clusters) -
maybe 7 pounds per vine.
Red wines press out at about 6.5 gallons per 100 pounds of grape for
me. The whites at 5 gallons per 100 pounds - IF I am really diligent
during pressing. Less if I am wasteful.
In other words: I need 2 1/2 vines to produce a gallon of finished
white wine, and 2 vines of red wine grapes to produce a gallon of
As to maturity until you harvest - that will depend on what you plant
(grafted rootstock versus cutting) and your soil / climate /
irrigation. Assuming you plant field stock into a well prepared and
irrigated vineyard, and that you train and prune them effectively, you
will see fruit on the vines in the second year - which you will cut and
drop. You will then face the decision of wheter or not to harvest the
third year fruit. I never have - although it is tempting. I prefer to
cut and drop after fruit set to allow the vines to become bigger and
I'm surious - where are you, what varieties are you considering
planting, and how many vines do you think you have room for?
Isn't this a hybrid developed by Cornell?
If so, you can probably get some good information
from them. Location: lots of sun, makes a big
difference in production also. Keep us informed
of your experience with this variety. If I had
more room, I would try some also.
Frontenac is from Minnesota and would be an acceptable choice for zone
5. There is a new patented variety from MN named Marquette that is
supposed to be better.
This link has information on both plus a couple of other cold hardy
I'm in the hills of northern New Jersey and have a lot of trees near my
grapes. Last year the 44 actively producing FA hybrid vines produced 460
lbs of fruit, red & white. That yielded 44 gallons of young wine, and
that will end up as 38 to 40 gallons of bottled wine after all the
racking, "testing" and topping up are done. This comes out to about 12
pounds per gallon, or roughly .9 gallons of bottled wine per vine. I
could easily increase the total crop weight by 30 to 50%, but I would
have considerable trouble getting it ripe under my growing conditions.
Vine health would suffer too.
Four years to the first grape? No, not exactly. If you have a
particularly vigorous vine or two, you might let it hang one modest
cluster the second year, just to prove the principle. As mentioned
elsewhere, you should wait til the third year for a half crop, and the
fourth year for a full crop. Even then, the crop quality will continue
to improve (even at the same size) for years to come.
If I can offer some advice: Don't just plant what you think you will
want. If at all possible, plant several times that.
If you are serious about Frontenac grapes I suggest you read this.
I have another grape to suggest that makes a deep complex red, Norton.
Nortons are also cold hardy.I live in northern Missouri and have
wonderful success with them. They are very vigorous and are black rot
resistant. I have never sprayed my grapes at all and enjoy bountiful
harvests. Nortons are so popular that they are hard to get. If you
think you might want to try them, get online and order some now. The
plants are so vigoruos that I suggest planting them at a little wider
spacing than you would other varieties. My grapes were in full
production by their third year. All you need to do is stand back and
Norton can make good wine, but it is more difficult due to pH
typically being too high when the TA gets low enough. Marechal Foch
and Leon Millot are French Hybrids that are planted in the mid-west.
There are also two new releases from Cornell that might be worth
checking on - Noiret and Corot Noir.
Thanks, everyone. I am in northwest Indiana.
I am looking for a red variety, that's why I was thinking frontenac.
*** Any other red varieties I should be looking at? ***
By the way, in answer to my original question as to gallons per vine,
Jeff Cox in From Vines to Wines says a mature vine yields 8 to 12
pounds of grapes and that 11 or 12 pounds of grapes yield a gallon of
finished wine. p. 28
I think Cox's averages are pretty good.
It gets pretty cold in northwest Indiana (I grew
up in Northern Illinois) so Frontenac (from what
I have read) should be a good variety for you. I
think someone posted a while back that there is a
new variety similar to Frontenac that is even
better. My suggestion is to find a winery that
makes wine from that grape (maybe in Michigan)
and taste the wine first before you grow it
While I enjoyed Cox' book, there are a number of slight inaccuracies in
it - and this is one.
11 or 12 pounds of wine yields a gallon of wine ... not with any of the
vitis vinifera I'm familiar with. Most winemakers expect a barrel, plus
topping wine, from a half ton. That equates to about 70 gallons per
1000 pounds which equates to a little more than 14 pounds per gallon.
Takes more grape weight to produce a gallon of white wine. Home
winemakers oftem get less wine per pound because of the relative
inefficiencies of home winemaking equipment (basket press versus
bladder press, for instance).
As I mentioned in an earlier response, your production per vine will
vary based on variety, age of vine, row and plant spacing, and pruning
strategy. 8 to 12 is a good range for mature, full-bearing vines spaced
traditionally and using productive pruning strategies such as VSP.
Don't know about Frontenac - I grow and vinify only vitis vinifera.
Maybe it is a heavier producing vine with heavier berries.
Axis, where do you live? The reason I ask is
because where I live (in the Northern Virginia -
Central Maryland area) I have always averaged 8
gallons of wine per 100 pounds of fruit and this
is from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet
Franc (12.5 pounds to make a gallon of wine).
The Cabernet Sauvignon is just slightly less than
this but not much (because of smaller berries and
I also worked at a commercial winery in Northern
Virginia for a couple years after I retired and
the ratio of 8 gallons per 100 pounds held true
there also - of course we dealt with tons of
fruit but the ratio was still the same.
If you are basing your numbers on a hotter climate
region, then I can understand your results being
lower because of less juice - higher sugar ratios
and perhaps slightly raisoned fruit.
Even though Cox's book is not the "bible" on
viticulture or winemaking, it is a book I highly
recommend because it explains the basics in terms
all can understand and I have not found any
I'm in Northern California - Sierra Foothills.
I agree about Cox' book - it is excellent, and I also recommend it. I'm
not trying to say it is flawed - just that there are a lot of variables
that go into how much wine one can get from any number of vines . Like
I said, there is so much variation depending on variety, spacing,
pruning, and location. In my vineyard, the Cabernet are very small
berries and relatively small clusters. Maybe 7 pounds of fruit per
vine, and maybe 6.5 gallons of finished wine per 100 pounds of fruit.
The Syrah on the other hand are larger berries and more productive ...
about 10 pounds per vine, and easily 7.5 gallons per 100 pounds of
And while I get less wine per pound in general from white grapes,
because of the difference in efficiency of pressing fermented versus
non-fermented fruit, my Marsanne are the most productive grapevines.
Medium large berries, and bloody huge, dense clusters. Some of the
vines are probably producing 12 to 15 pounds per vine.