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Family Farms Turn to Vineyards

As we travel across the country visiting wineries and writing about the winery “experience” we come across family owned farms that once were worried about development overtaking their farm lands. Intent to keep the property in the family, they consider the options available. With today’s industrialized farming methods, it’s difficult for the smaller farms to continue.

We’ve discovered a number of farms that have turned to vineyards. After much research and perhaps planting a few vines to test the idea, small farm farmers are planting a few acres. One of the difficulties in changing a farm to a vineyard is the upstart cost and that the vineyards normally don’t begin to produce well for about five years. On the upside of things, once the vineyards are established, with proper care they will survive for decades. Some vineyards remain as vineyards and the farmers sell their grapes to wineries. Occasionally, vineyard owners decide to establish a winery. Gord Mitchell, owner and vineyard manager for Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery in Ontario’s Lake Erie North Shore use to sell grapes to nearby wineries. Those wineries kept winning medals for years using Gord’s grapes. Gord recently established a winery and opened the tasting room in 2006.

Frank Hobson, RagApple Lassie Winery and Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley region of North Carolina use to grow tobacco. He replaced the tobacco with vineyards and now makes excellent wines.

West Wind Farm Vineyards and Winery located in southern Virginia is another winery we recently visited. As the owners saw development encroaching upon their region, they decided to take action by planting a vineyard. Today they are producing wines including: Pinot Gris, Chambourcin and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Either way, the family farm stays in the family.

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