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Myths to dispel – the vineyard, I won’t spend much money for it because it will not last long and I will replace it in 15 years.

Myths to dispel – the vineyard, I won’t spend much money for it because it will not last long and I will replace it in 15 years.

MYTHS TO DISPEL

 The vineyard: I won’t spend much money for it because it will not last long and I will replace it in 15 years.

 

In the past 8 years, Italian viticulture has flourished with the incentives provided under renewal programmes or the installation of new vineyards, mainly in the North-east of the country. Most of these initiatives took place in this area thanks to the success of Prosecco wine.

This situation has also created a new trend of thought that we have often heard by some farmers, but leaves us a little puzzled: “I won’t spend much money for it because the vineyard will last 12 to 15 years, and then I will replace it”

Our focus is not on I won’t spend much money”, which is a common expression with its own reason to exist, but on the alleged life cycle of a vineyard.

Saying that a vineyard lasts 12-15 years” sounds like a bit of a stretch that should probably be considered in a context and cannot be taken as true in general.

Without going too far into the duration of the vine, which depends on thousands of factors and situations, we believe that the average life of a vineyard is still around 30 years.

So what is the origin of this trend of thought that points to half the regular lifespan?

It could be partly related to the situation in the North-east, where Prosecco wine is seen as a great opportunity but comes with many risks, especially the danger that the market will no longer demand the product or the fear to be overshadowed by competitors in global markets.

A second factor could be the mechanisation of vineyard, which is bringing many economic benefits but also some contraindications, mostly linked to the lifespan of vine plants that are “forced” to produce.

Hence the idea that the vineyard may not last long compared to more traditional vineyards.

This thought affects people’s choices when they consider installing a new vineyard.

Short vineyard life means that the installation must be inexpensive, because profits must be maximised in a shorter period of time. But is this a fair assessment?

Does it make sense to change an entire vineyard after 12-15 years, by entrepreneurial choice or by necessity, when you can simply replace the vines and keep the same support structure, if it was a quality one?

In our opinion, it does not; but the best thing to do is always to analyse the issue based on numbers to try and give an objective answer.

We can use many types of materials to build a vineyard but, to simulate a comparison that shows some evidence, we need to start from some established facts.

We tried to calculate the costs of a 1-ac espalier-trained vineyard (with cordon spur pruning or guyot or casarsa techniques), sitting 2.00 m above the ground, with a 3.00 m distance between rows and 5.00 m distance between trellises.

We will calculate the cost of a system with these characteristics by simulating two different situations:

1 standard system (made with medium-to-low quality materials. Use of pre-galvanised metal poles). Average lifetime: 15 years.

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2 top systems (made with the best materials on the market. Use of EVO metal poles with zinc/aluminium/magnesium coating). Average lifetime: 30 years.

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Let’s see now how much the two systems would cost.

standard top
€ 6,678.25 € 8,353.78

 

As can be clearly seen in the table, the price difference between a standard system and a TOP system is about 20%.

 

Screenshot (17)

 

In this chart we can see that the biggest difference is made by metal posts and, to an almost marginal extent, by anchors and wires.

The difference is about € 1,600, which farmers would save if they decided to build and a low-cost system.

When making this choice, however, they should consider that standard material will also have a shorter life span. In our example, the vineyard will probably need maintenance and repairs towards the middle of its average life cycle (which we said was 30 years), requiring the replacement of rusting or damaged posts.

So regardless of whether they decide to keep the vines or replace them for any reason, they would still have to restore the rusty poles, paying another € 4,000 or so. In the end, they would therefore spend more than they would have done by choosing the TOP system in the first place.

We can therefore say that the initially more “expensive” solution will ultimately be the most cost-effective.

When thinking about what choice to make, you should always consider all the factors involved so that you can identify the best solution. In this case, the goal is to make the most profitable choice.

This is what we do with our customers, trying to help them make a choice that is not only conscious, but also more sustainable.