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“Wine lovers who dream of planting vines at home, whether they have room for one acre or a single row, will find valuable advice.” —Wine Spectator
Interest in wine shows no signs of slowing down—wine tours, tastings, and vacations are now common and homeowners often have space dedicated to their collection. The logical next step? Learning to grow and make your own.
In The Organic Backyard Vineyard, expert Tom Powers walks the small grower through the entire process of growing grapes, with a month-by-month maintenance guide covering all regions of the U.S. and Canada. He explains everything a beginning grape grower needs to know: how to design and build a vineyard, how to select grapes for each region, how to maximize yield using organic maintenance techniques, how to build a trellis, how to harvest at peak flavor, and how to store grapes for wine making.
Tom Powers operates Alhambra Valley Ranch, a 58-acre sustainable family farm in western Contra Costa County, California. The farm is located on the urban edge, between Martinez, Orinda, Pinole, and Richmond. It produces grapes for wine, olives for oil and curing, and summer vegetables, including the best-tasting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes in the world. On two hillside pastures Powers raises goats, sheep, llamas, and emus. Many of the animals are retired or rescued farm animals, but the sheep and goats have become another business element of the ranch.
Alhambra Valley was once filled with orchards and wine grapes before Prohibition (1919 to 1933), with such well-known farmers as John Muir and John Swett. Powers started his farm in 1998 and since 1999 has planted hundreds of backyard vineyards in Contra Costa and surrounding counties under the name of Diablo Vineyard Planting and Management. In 2005 he revived the historic grape-growing and wine-making tradition by starting a small commercial winery on his farm. His varietal wines and blends are sold directly to friends, neighbors, stores, and restaurants.
He has also added more farm products and processing activities, including a greenhouse operation so that he can get his prize Cherokee Purple tomatoes to market in May instead of July.
These activities constitute the fourth or fifth career for this former attorney, county supervisor, realtor, and consultant. However, Powers is from a long line of farmers, including his grandfather who started one of the first farms in the Imperial Valley in 1910.
Tom Powers was awarded Contra Costa County’s Sustainable Farming Individual of the Year award in 2009. In addition to the ranch, he runs the Alhambra Valley Olive Oil Company and Alhambra Valley Wine Company and chairs the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust Board and the Contra Costa County Agricultural Advisory Board.
“In simple, straightforward, yet extremely knowledgeable terms, Powers takes home gardeners through the logical steps in planning, implementing, and maintaining a home vineyard. . . . a good bottle of wine may now be as close as their own backyard.” —Booklist
“Wine lovers who dream of planting vines at home, whether they have room for one acre or a single row, will find valuable advice in a new book, The Organic Backyard Vineyard: A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Your Own Grapes. Emphasizing ecologically sound practices, author Tom Powers carefully maps out the steps would-be vignerons should consider to ensure success.” —Wine Spectator
“. . . . everything that the novice grower needs to know about planting their own vineyard.” —Do It Yourself
“Learn how to design and build a backyard vineyard, select the best grapes for your region, use the latest organic techniques and store the bounty for winemaking.” —Natural Home and Garden
“Whether you have only handful of vines or are planting an acre, author Tom Powers explains everything you need to know.” —ACRES U.S.A
“This book is absolutely packed with solid information on where to begin, what you need and how to do it.” —East Oregonian