Selecting the Right Vineyard Manager

It’s true. Hiring a vineyard manager can be as nerve wracking as choosing a wise investment. You second guess yourself: Did you pick the right person for the job? Will the crew show up as promised? Will my winemaker like the results?

The Seeds

Like any new relationship it will take time for us to learn those little nuances that make a good relationship or investment grow and thrive. Some folks do better with phone requests and others prefer email. It’s my job to adapt to whatever method works best for you. Here’s one course of action I recommend to put your fears and doubts to rest as you evaluate vineyard management candidates:

  1. Balance Financial, Business and Vineyard Goals – Managing a vineyard well is no different than other financial investments: Be sure to establish short- and long-term vineyard goals for best results with an eye towards spatial thinking.
  2. Develop Consensus on Best Farming Practices – Example: Some growers prefer an aggressive approach to pest and disease control with early, preventative spraying measures. Others take a more hands-off approach, preferring to see how the vines fend for themselves before introducing man-made controls. If you’re not sure which is right for your vineyard, be sure to discuss it with candidates before awarding a contract to ensure you’re on the same page.
  3. Determine the Line of Communication – If knowing a crew will be on-site at a specific time and date is vitally important, discuss how these requests will be placed and executed, from you all the way through to the on-site foreman.
    Leave no room for miscommunication.
  4. Ask How Emergencies are Handled – What happens if an irrigation line breaks on the weekend? At GCVM, I can guarantee we’ll be there when an emergency occurs, rain or shine. Do you know how other candidates will manage your emergency needs?
  5. Meet with the Wine Maker On Site – There’s absolutely no substitute for assessing your vineyard with you on-site. Land is changing constantly. The best way for me to ensure my customized vineyard plan is in alignment with your financial goals, as well as the winemaker’s goals, is to walk the property with you to review any problems, short-term tasks and long-term goals. It’s simply the best and fastest way to get us all on the same page.
  6. Agree Upon How Results Will Be Measured – Your vineyard is an investment and should be treated with a measurable result (return on investment). While a financial goal of achieving $X,000/ton at harvest should be the monetary goal, overall success should also be based upon the health of the vineyard combined with the monetary and wine-making goals. This guarantees the best results in both short- and long-term goals.

If you’re looking for an experienced and trustworthy vineyard manager, it’s time to consider Grand Crew Vineyard Management. Nearly a century of combined vineyard management experience in the the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, you can count on our team to be the best steward of your vineyard.