What makes the world of winemaking so compelling? Wine enthusiasts seem to cherish a feeling of belonging – of being part of that global community that joyfully celebrates all-things-wine.
But few wine lovers have the opportunity or the inclination to become vintners themselves. Now there is a growing movement that invites them to participate in the process: Adopt-a-Vine programs. Embraced by a number of winemakers worldwide, these projects enable connoisseurs to be a part of the winemaking culture by “adopting” vines, rather than owning a vineyard.
While the details of adopt-a-vine programs vary, what they typically offer in common is the chance for any individual to purchase a vine, no matter where they live in the world. In exchange, “adopted parents,” as they are sometimes called, receive a personalized hang-tag identifying the vine as belonging to them, plus information regarding the grape that grows on their adopted vine. Donors usually are invited to seasonal events in the vineyard. Some wineries also offer wine discounts, educational workshops about the vine-to-wine process and a variety of hands-on activities such as helping with canopy management, crop estimation and pruning techniques.
For wine enthusiasts who would gladly throw themselves into a vat of wine at the drop of a hat, the immersive nature of these programs can be a perfect fit. Says Barbara Nixon, founder of Australia-based Adopt-a-Vine, “People love being involved. They love the romance of the vineyard, the changing seasons, the warmth of the soil, the bright green leaves at spring and the ripening grapes.”
What’s not to love about all that?
Here are a few places where you can adopt your own vines:
If you love Australian or New Zealand wines, this program gives you access to vines from a few producers Down Under, as well as one in Texas. Participants receive an adoption “kit” with particulars related to their adopted vines. Adoptions last for a limited period of time (typically three years) and adopted parents can renew for another cycle. Perks include wine discounts and invitations to dinners and other special events, along with an Adopt-a-Vine membership card that entitles them to enjoy their benefits at all participating wineries throughout the world.
Old World Winery
At this winery in northern California’s Russian River Valley, you can adopt your vine in perpetuity. Donors are invited to visit their vines as often as they like and encouraged to be a part of harvesting tasks, including stomping on the harvested grapes. Owner Darek Trowbridge says there are no geographic restrictions, and donors are free to honor a friend or loved one in memoriam on their donor tag.
First Colony Winery
This Virginia-based program charges a one-time-only fee for adopting a row of grapevines based on your preferred grape variety. In addition to wine discounts and harvest events (such as free and discounted tickets to the winery’s annual Harvest Festival), donors receive free tastings and an annual photograph of the donor and their vine.
Taylor Brooke Winery
Located in Connecticut, Taylor Brooke’s program offers three-year memberships. While donors receive a complimentary bottle of wine for each year of the adoption period, members must pick up their bottles at the winery due to state permit restrictions.