10 Things Successful Vineyards Do

Successful Marlborough Vineyard Applying Organic Matter
Successful Marlborough Vineyard Applying Organic Matter

10 Things Successful Vineyards Do

1.  Manage their programmes well

Whether we’re talking about spraying, fertilising or mowing, programmes should be put in place, so tasks get done, effectively, and with good rotation times. Spraying, which is indisputably reliant on timing, can make or break a season. So why risk running a couple of days behind, when it’s that 20% of managing a vineyard that dictates what 80% of its outcome will look like. Weather can play havoc with programmes, but pencilling in 2nd and 3rd opportunities to spray will help eliminate missing the window completely.

2.  Encourage a culture of innovation

This brings to mind the famous phrase used in business – “innovate or die”. It’s a harsh reality, but with automation emerging in various sectors of vineyard management, it’s a game changer for those who embrace the change. An open-minded approach seems to be required for success. Otherwise, your competition will beat you to find solutions and ways to mainstream, improve, and growth-hack their operations. Successful vineyards have dedicated budgets, time and resources to research, trial and develop.  These, in turn, create and feed an on-going culture of innovation.


3.  Have a marathon mindset

Successful vineyards don’t happen overnight, their managers plan and strategise for long-term success. Managers don’t need to comprise short-term goals, however, they utilise these as vehicles to drive the bigger objective, set years out. It’s important not to allow small opportunities that don’t align with your vision to get in the way, otherwise they will, in turn, become obstacles.

 4.  Think long-term sustainability

Relating back to point 3, planning for sustainability naturally occurs when you think long-term. This is paramount when looking at aspects of a vineyard that are hard to replace. It could include the competitive advantage you have, so look after it because, fundamentally, your business needs it as a point of difference. Another example of this could be the institutional knowledge contained within your vineyard. A way to minimise the risk of losing it is to make sure, through robust processes and systems, that it is not held solely by one person.


5.  Are organised

A successful vineyard is an organised vineyard. “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”: a simple yet direct message that speaks the truth. Some of the time, however, realistically, ‘it’ won’t go to plan, but preparing a plan gets you thinking about alternative methods, options and ideas which can prove critical to developing ‘back-up’ plans.


6. Have a low staff turnover

We all know there are peak staffing seasons in vineyards, (and this ties back in with point 1), but valuing staff all year round is a must if you want to run an efficient business. You might ask staff to work longer hours in the busy times, but allow for more holidays in the quiet periods, or even get out from behind your desk in order to help colleagues on the ground get tasks done in time. This approach can be applied to all levels of the business, and because actions like these build a strong culture, if you look after your staff, they’ll look after you.


7.  Value soil health

Tying in with point 4, soil is a crucial element in your vineyard, primarily because it has a strong influence on the style and character of your wines. Successful vineyards take a sustainable approach to soil health, giving back to the soil that then generates better performance in improved quality and increased yield at harvest time.

Replacing the nutrients, trace elements and organic matter absorbed by your growing vines, through the application of compost is a cost-effective way to keep your soil producing excellent results. Whilst not intended to replace fertiliser application programmes, applying compost will enhance the effectiveness of your fertiliser, because of its weed suppression and soil moisture-retention qualities. These properties of compost also make spraying programmes more efficient.  Supplementing your vineyard programmes with compost application will enhance soil management, its health and, ultimately, your harvest.

 8.  Know where the ‘red tape’ is, but they operate within it and influence positive change

‘Red tape’ is one of those terms that business often associates with costs or restrictions, or both. Effective businesses respect the rules and regulations but aren’t afraid to question why they’re there. Successful vineyards are industry leaders, and have well-earned respect in that sphere. This can be utilised to transform red tape from obstacle into an opportunity. Industry leaders can take a proactive stance, engaging with local and central government, to influence up-and-coming regulatory changes or updates, so that practical effects are positive for the sector.

 9.  Are constantly learning and applying lessons

This isn’t about reading a book for 15 minutes a day- it’s more than that. It’s about embracing learning, as a whole, and building it into your everyday ‘whirlwind’. Acknowledging mistakes made is an important part of this. Working out how and why errors have occurred creates valuable lessons, which can then be applied in the future. Relating this back to point 2, if this approach is used to consolidate and reinforce an innovative culture,  with the right team on board, it’s only a matter of time before you will have a successful vineyard.

 10.  Have strong, sound relationships

Anyone in business would agree that having strong relationships with stakeholders is crucial for long-term success. These relationships are built over a long period, developed through authenticity, genuineness, respect and trust.  Securing such relationships is indicative of a successful vineyard.

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