Monday, 22 December 2008

Vine Training Techniques

Grape vines can be extremely long lived and after about 20 years vines start to produce smaller crops, and average yields decrease, leading to more concentrated, intense wines. A good pruning regime is all important and one must decide on a particular form from the start. At the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2007 The Fetzer Sustainable Winery Show Garden designed by Kate Frey was awarded a Gold Medal. I took this photograph there on a blazing hot day, mimicking the Californian setting the garden was representing. In the plant list this vine was only described as Vitis vinifera, the common grapevine, which was a tad disappointing for this vine variety addict. What attracted me was the style of growing through pruning so that the truck of the vine is much taller than the traditional double or single Guyot system I'm using at home. I assume that the vines came from a producing vineyard and weren't just manicured for effect so I have been trying to research this freestanding style. The nearest prune systems I can find are either the Cruzeta a system used in the Vinho Verde area of Portugal where vines are trained to a wide cross arm about two meters off the ground, or the Gobelet (or head trained an American term) which has been used since Roman times, involves no wires or other system of support. The spurs are arranged on short arms in an approximate circle at the top of the trunk, making the vine resemble a goblet-drinking vessel. These vines are free standing and the system is best suited to low-vigour vineyards in drier climates, such as the one illustrating sustainability by Fetzer at Chelsea. If you are interested in vine training techniques I can suggest you look at where some 50 odd are described, but not illustrated, unfortunately. Below is a photograph taken in Fetzers vineyard, apparently putting this technique into practice.


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Linda Lunda said...

Great post!
And... A Merry Cristmas to you!

joco said...


Interesting post. Is your vine outdoors?

In the greenhouse a standard vine would make it too tall I suppose.
I had no idea that there were any special pruning styles. I thought you just hacked it back, as long as it was done in December.

In 25 years I have never ever either watered or fed our indoor vine and it keeps on going. Miraculous. It even survived a bout of mildew two years ago.

Are those buttercups between the vines in California? Is there justification for that? I mean, do they add something to the soil or function as a pesticide?

Philip Bewley said...

I have been to Portugal, and of course Napa and Sonoma are just up the way from here. I love vinyards, and this was such an interesting post. In our previous garden we had grape vines grow on an arbor over the front door. It was very charming. I have often thought I would love to have grapevines again.
I love the orderliness of the vinyard. Roses are often planted near the vinyards here. I believe that the roses are a first indicator of fungal diseases.
I enjoyed your post!

Woodland Fay said...

Joco, Thanks for your comment. Firstly, ours are all outside. Secondly, you mention not having to feed or water yours. Vine roots are incredible at getting deep down and finding for themselves! As for
"Are those buttercups between the vines in California" this is an interesting thought. The Fetzer show garden had a wide range of wild flowers under and around the vines and it is possible to read up on their biodiversity techniques on line, try
you can Click to view a panorama of this garden. Hope this helps

Woodland Fay said...

Philip Bewley , Hi thanks for your comment. Re: Roses yes, indeed I have seen the same in the south of France, and as we are such francophiles we just had to copy this growing technique! It is, as you say, to alert the grower to the presence of fungal infections, however I've notice my roses appear to have some background infection pretty much continually (I hate to spray all the time), so I'm just enjoying their prettiness and will treat mildew etc on the vines when I notice it. In truth the roses are used commercially at the roadside edge of large vineyards as a quick reminder to the grower when passing. I'm amongst my vines daily.