To the burn pile or the bank?

by Brad Asmus

It’s raining hard in Pleasant Valley and the pruning crew in the pinot vineyard across the way is huddled under the eves of a winery building. They’ve got about half of the vineyard done and the long canes that held last years grapes are lying on the ground between rows. When the crew finishes pruning, they’ll gather up the cuttings, make a big pile and burn them. It will be money going up in smoke.

Eight year old wreath on wine country tool shed.

Eight year old wreath on wine country tool shed.

Grapevine cuttings make great wreaths. They have a rustic, wine country look that appeals to many and they last for years, even outdoors. Decorators love them, especially the big, thick wreaths that make a real statement. They’re easy to make; someone with quick hands can twist up three or four big ones in an hour. And they retail for anywhere from $20 to $100 or more, depending on size.

Christmas is, of course, the easiest time to sell them, but they actually move all year long. Just ask the folks at the Napa Valley Grapevine Wreath Company They make a year-round business out of it. They’re real artists of the grapevine who weave the stuff into peace signs, bottle carriers, and a variety of baskets in addition to wreaths.

Vine cuttings are at their most workable when freshly cut, but they stay workable for weeks and soaking them in water makes them pliable again even after months. If you keep a pile around, you can put your work crew to making wreaths on days when you would otherwise have to send them home. And when the holidays come around again, you’ll be able to generate income from something that would otherwise just go up in smoke.

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