I say that summer has finally arrived with a tone of caution. It was only earlier last week that we had a northerly wind blowing and it felt like we were back in winter.
The vineyard is starting to actually look like a real grown up vineyard now, with lots of lush growth. So much so that we have to thin out some of the shoots, in a process believe it or not we call ‘shoot thinning’.
Shoot thinning is the first stage of canopy management in the growing season- not including pruning of course. Each year once the vines start to grow, they send out shoots from the buds that we laid down when pruning.
Shoots also push from the secondary buds within the main bud location. Grapevine buds are not singular, but rather made up of many buds within the one visible. This is an evolution at its finest, if the primary bud is damaged (or the shoot is destroyed by frost), one or both of the secondary buds will emerge to make sure that the vine lives on to produce more fruit and thus seeds, and by way of nature reproduce. However, sometimes they grow anyway, these are what we call doubles or triples, which refer to when we have 2 or 3 shoots growing from the one location on the cane.
This is where shoot thinning comes in – we knock off the extra growth in order to concentrate the vines energy into the remaining shoot. More shoots on a vine equal more leaves, and more fruit. This is what we don’t want- vines that are over cropped with a dense canopy of leaves have more disease pressure, and less fruit character in the final wine.
The goal is to end up with a nice open canopy so that each cane is ready to carry one or two bunches and each vine has an ideal setup for bloom and fruitset with plenty of sunlight interception into the canopy. Bring on the rest of Summer!
Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager