Journal | February 18, 2018
Learning by Looking Backwards
In youth I looked forward: new Lyre training systems in the vineyard and fancy high tech dejuicing tanks in the cellar. With age I find myself looking backwards. Linden’s winemaking has become boringly traditional and the vineyard now looks more like Barolo rather than New Zealand.
Perhaps that is why I am embracing a new/old pruning technique that I will refer to as Lafon. Rene Lafon wrote a technical pamphlet in 1921 detailing a new pruning system that would allow vines to have a longer and healthier productive life. I had read about a modern revival of this system in Europe in reaction to an increase in severity of wood diseases in many vineyards. Luck would have it that last year an Italian pruning consultant specializing in the Lafon method to Barboursville Winery paid visit to Linden (via Barboursville: thank you Luca) just as pruning was starting. I decided to dedicate a young block of Petit Manseng to the Lafon system. I had some skepticism at first, but now I am starting to understand the benefits, especially in our climate. This system will not work in our older, widely spaced vineyard blocks, but looks promising for our locks that are less than 15 years old (planted at 3 to 4 feet between vines. My goal is to have most of these blocks converted to the Lafon system within three years.