Should you hire a contractor to plant your vineyard?

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Charles Brun, horticulture adviser for Washington State University extension, thinks of vineyard consultants and contractors in the same way he sees auto mechanics and house painters: Professionals with knowledge and expertise who can save a landowner from costly mistakes.

A consultant, who may also be a viticulture contractor, will run $75 to $100 an hour.

"Look for someone with a demonstrated track record of growing grapes," Brun said.

He also suggested visiting area vineyards and wineries. Take notes there and talk with the owners about their experiences — both good and bad.

Planting a vineyard on unused land may also reduce tax liability, since it could be zoned for agriculture use, Brun said.

Finally, if you don't plan to make your own wine from the grapes, check around with area cellars, who may want to contract for your harvest.

— Christy Lochrie