So one of the big tasks that need to be done on all of our vineyards is shoot thinning, and yes it does mean that we are going to each vine and taking off shoots of the vines that do have clusters on them. While it may seem backward that we are taking off potential product for the coming harvest, we are actually going to increase the volume and ripeness in the grapes when we pick them.
The grapevine itself needs a careful balance of shoots per length of vine, that will ensure there is enough energy to fully ripen the berries. If there are too many shoots the vine will ripen every cluster partially, it won’t swell the berries to full size, and you are left with little juice and under-ripe berries (not what a winemaker wants to turn wine into).
By taking off some of the shoots, we are ensuring that the vine has enough energy to fully grow and ripen the berries in the next few months of summer and autumn. By taking off extra shoots and clusters we will end up with more volume and riper grapes-so sometimes less is more!
When we are going through the vineyard, the shoots that we are looking to take off are:
Shoots with no grape clusters
Shoots that are smaller in length than the average of that vine
Shoots with smaller clusters of grapes
Shoots with clusters of grapes with poor fruit set
So when I say fruit set, I am taking about the grapes that have been self pollinated like this cluster here.
This cluster is an example of good fruit set. There are grape berries evenly spread around the main stem, there are no big gaps in berries in the cluster, and the grapes are all increasing size at the same pace.
When we are looking for clusters that are poor fruit set, which happens all the time in the vine, we are looking for all those things mentioned and then removing that cluster so that the vine can focus on ripening a better set cluster.
My last photo I will leave you with this week is a shot from our Cab-Foch showing just where they are at. With our trellising system at the winery, we actually start the grapes at 5 ft up and let them hang down. This means no tucking the vines and very little maintenance.
Our grapes are almost touch the ground now so we have between 4-5 ft of growth which is the perfect length for them to start ripening at. While this vineyard doesn’t look as tidy as our others, I love the feeling walking through this vineyard. So enjoy one of my favourite work views.