Sonoma Valley nursery boosts grapevine output to 6 million

[caption id="attachment_82515" align="alignnone" width="500"] Jay Jensen, chief executive officer of Novavine, says the new 46,000-square-foot greenhouse at the Sonoma Valley nursery will be able to produce more than 1 million vines for planting annually. (image credit: Jeff Quackenbush)[/caption]

KENWOOD -- Amid heightened demand for new grapevines for vineyard redevelopment and new plantings in recent years, Novavine has boosted its annual nursery output to 6 million vines with the opening of its largest greenhouse to date.

Santa Rosa-based Novavine (707-539-5678, on Friday unveiled a 46,332-square-foot, $1.5 million greenhouse at its 27-acre property at 6735 Sonoma Hwy. near Kenwood.

"Four years ago we were grafting 2.5 million vines, and now we're grafting 6 million," said Jay Jensen, Novavine chief executive officer, while walking among rows of custom-built rolling pallets for repositioning grapevines with much less labor.

Indeed, four years ago was a much different environment for grapevine nurseries. The so-called "great recession" of 2008 caused the premium-wine business to significantly contract in 2009--2010. Mr. Jensen told the Business Journal in early 2010 that Novavine's preorders for that season were down 30 percent from those for 2009.

Sales are now double what they were in 2010, according to the company.

Novavine's preorders for the 2014 season are 80 percent of the expanded capacity, which is up because of increased interest in replanting, shifting grape varieties and new vineyards in the past couple of years as the economy has improved, Mr. Jensen said. Significant preordering, rather than speculative vine propagation, is necessary for a grapevine nursery because of myriad combinations of grape varieties, clones and rootstock a buyer may want, he said. The nursery commonly reserves 25 percent of its vine production to make sure what the vines are ordered are viable.

The new greenhouse can accommodate 595,000 vines at a time and can be filled twice a year, producing upwards of 1.2 million vines annually.

Previously, the company's largest greenhouse was a 32,000-square-foot structure on the same property. It can produce 350,000 vines at a time and 700,000-plus a year. Novavine also has two 10,000-square-foot greenhouses in the area.

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