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The Importance of Choosing the Right Vineyard Consultant


Reasons to Consider a Vineyard Consultant:

  1. Initial Project Guidance: Engaging a consultant at the project's outset ensures a solid foundation, preventing design, layout, and planting errors in a new vineyard.

  2. Problem Solving: Consultants step in when vital, providing localized insights and expertise to enhance or salvage a vintage or vineyard, especially when pertinent information is scarce.

Key Attributes of a Competent Consultant:

  • Prompt responsiveness within 48 hours via call or email.

  • Transparent fee structure, including travel expenses.

  • Offers at least three references for prior clients.

  • Acknowledges specific experience relevant to locale, varietals, and desired wine style.

  • Demonstrates genuine interest in the client's process.

  • Provides a balanced perspective on vineyard installation and maintenance, discouraging half-hearted commitments.

Pro Tips for Selecting a Consultant:

  • Consider professionals with multi-generational winegrowing backgrounds and 5-10 years of experience.

  • Sample wines from projects they've been involved in to ensure alignment with your preferences.

  • Clearly define expectations for the consultation and share pertinent data, like soil and water test results.

  • Timing matters; late spring or early summer visits are often most beneficial.

  • Insist on a written summary of observations and recommendations as part of the consultation.

Warning Signs of an Ineffective Consultant:

  • Attempts to sell a book instead of conducting an on-site visit.

  • Claims to solve issues without assessing the vineyard or reviewing test results.

  • Lacks verifiable references or a professional track record.

  • Lacks direct experience in the wine industry or region.

  • Specializes in areas other than grape varietal wine production.

Questions for Prospective Consultants:

  • What's the most impactful wine project you've consulted on, and how did you contribute to its quality? (Can the wine be sampled?)

  • How do you define vine balance?

  • In your opinion, how does viticulture influence wine quality and greatness?

  • What is your experience and expertise specific to my locale, and what challenges do you foresee in varietal wine production here?

  • What commercially-grown wine nearest to my vineyard do you believe is the best?

Remember, there may not be a definitive right or wrong answer to these questions, but a knowledgeable and dedicated consultant should confidently address them. Access to qualified consultants may be influenced by your proximity to viticulture programs or established winegrowing regions.

It's crucial to avoid inexperienced or unreliable consultants who may not have the necessary background and expertise.


For an in-depth article on Vineyard Consultants, authored by Wes Hagen, visit this link.

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