However, replacing grapevines is not as straightforward and simple as it may seem on the surface. After all, a grower cannot simply pull out all the old vines at once and start again anew. For economic reasons the vineyard needs to continue to produce fruit, so farmers will strategically decide what their priorities are in terms of what needs to be replanted and slowly go about things while simultaneously not disturb the vines that are still producing. Essentially there are two main ways to go about this. The first is more drastic, but it involves removing entire blocks of the vineyard at once while leaving other blocks untouched. The advantage of pulling out an entire block of the vineyard affords the grower new opportunities in terms of introducing new disease resistant root stock, new clones of a particular varietal, or even bringing a completely new varietal into the growing operation. On the other hand, the downside is that by doing this, the grower is willingly acknowledging that a portion of the vineyard will not be bringing any any revenue until this new block of vines mature and can start producing usable grapes for making wine. Typically this process takes about 3 years.
Another tactic used when replanting is a term called "inter-planting". Inter-planting is definitely not as economically intrusive to the vineyard as pulling out an entire block of vines. Instead, as the name might imply, new vines are introduced into existing rows by planting them in-between already established vines. Normal vine spacing usually places vines six feet apart, but with inter-planting, new vines cut this gap in half and make it so there is only three feet of separation between each individual vine. One of the main disadvantages to inter-planting centers around competition among the vines, as the younger vines may struggle for nutrients, sunlight and water resources when they are that tightly spaced.
In short, very careful consideration needs to be taken for whatever decisions are made when replanting a vineyard as the ramifications are momentous. Achieving a proper balance in relation to the needs of the vineyard and needs of the farmer is always critical. At Ricci Vineyards we always strive to plan ahead so that no matter what action ends up being taken, we can adapt appropriately and ensure that our vineyard operation stays prosperous, healthy and thriving.