Journal | May 31, 2019

Hardscrabble Journal

Canopy Work

June is our busiest and most demanding month in the vineyard. Vigorous vine growth is fueled by soil moisture, heat and abundant sun. This spring has provided us a hat trick on all three accounts. Vines are not as well behaved as the casual observer might assume. June’s vineyard work is dedicated to balancing each individual vine to produce the best wine possible. The ensemble of these tasks is known as canopy work.

We just completed our first round of shoot thinning. Each vine is addressed and assessed as to its health and yield potential. Then many or even most of its succulent shoots are removed. The shoots that remain are those that are uniformly spaced and growing upwards.

Next week we will make the second pass to remove additional newly emerged shoots and to remove certain leaves that are in the cluster zone. Flowering is underway and soon the area around the newly forming clusters will be crowded. By strategically removing some of the leaves now, we achieve better aeration and better ripening in the fall.

Our most monumental task is shoot positioning. Each shoot has to grow upwards and attach itself to the trellis wine. The vine’s tendrils will do this if they have a chance to grab onto a wire. But if they are growing sideways or downwards, this is not possible. Our job is to tie or tuck these wayward shoots back up to the trellis so that the tendrils can do their job. We have about 30,000 vines. Each vine has between 6 and 12 shoots. You do the math.