A “Virginia Vineyard Suitability Investigative Tool” is available on the web at (http://www.cgit.vt.edu/vineyards). The dynamic website was created by a team of Virginia Tech specialists in the Center for Geospatial Information Technology (CGIT) and VCE viticulture specialists. The purpose of the tool is to determine the suitability of land that might be developed as a vineyard. The current application is applicable to land within Virginia’s borders, although a larger, eastern US version is under development. The tool uses a Google maps interface to steer the user to a land parcel of interest. The user can then choose from a number of physical attributes of the site to investigate, including parent geology, soil depth and certain aspects of climate. Those coarse classifications can be further refined if the user defines an area of interest and requests a report from the application server. The figure below, for example, illustrates the defined polygon that encompasses one of the research vineyards (approximately one acre) at Virginia Tech’s AHS Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Frederick County.
The tool is not meant to be the final analysis of vineyard site suitability. The web-based tool provides a relative rating of an actual or potential vineyard site, but has the added features of including soils data (USDA/NRCS) and some climate data. While the tool can give a first approximation of the suitability of site, a more detailed, on-site appraisal should eventually be pursued if the site looks promising. Next steps could include having a VCE agent, consultant, or VCE specialist visit the site to assess relative elevation, more detailed soils data, and proximity to sensitive areas.
The “Virginia Vineyard Suitability Investigative Tool” project was funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crop Block Grant program, and by a grant to Virginia Tech and 6 other institutions from USDA/NIFA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
March 27, 2013