Building a holistic, biologically rich, healthy vineyard in order to produce a wine with higher nutrient density and superb flavor

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $24,850.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G341-22-W9210
Grant Recipient: Bitner Vineyards
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Ron Bitner, Phd
Bitner Vineyards


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, foliar feeding, pollinator habitat
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, soil microbiology
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    We are concerned that poor soil health is impacting the health of our vines and subsequently the quality of our grapes. We recently had to remove an acre of 30-year-old vines because they were failing to produce quality grapes. We want to determine if improving soil health through worm casting inoculated wood chips and enhancing beneficial insect habitats will improve the nutrient density and flavor profile of our estate grown wines.

    After placing the worm tea inoculated chips around the vines, we will be foliating the vines 3x a year for 3 years; we will be testing the soils at the beginning of the grant, as well as 2x year for 3 years to see if we can achieve a balance of biologicals and fungi.

    With the increasing impacts of extreme weather and less available irrigation waters, the need for sustainable farming practices increases daily. As a small family farm, our labor is by hand. We hope Inoculated wood chips will retard weeds and preserve moisture in the soil. We hope good soil health will enable greater water retention, enhance vine resistance to disease and increase nutrient values of fruit.

    We will share our practices and findings by hosting an onsite workshop in the vineyard available virtually, sharing our results on our website and and print media.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Build soil health, to expand the soils water holding capacity and create habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators through regenerate agricultural practices. 2. Increase Macronutrient density of grapes as a result of improved soil health 3. We will share project results with surrounding vineyard owners/managers by hosting 2 onsite workshops, blog posting to and and presenting project results at the Idaho Wine Commission’s annual meeting.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.