After thorough experimentation by our Vineyard Manager Paul Kaselionis, we have decided to switch over three vineyard blocks from the “cordon trained, spur pruned” methods (shown in yesterday’s post’s photos) to “head trained, cane pruned.” The blocks we are converting are cabernet sauvignon, but the decision was not variety driven but rather based on the conditions present in each of the vineyards and the potential to grow even higher quality fruit.
To convert these vines from cordon trained spur pruned to head trained, cane pruned (also called Guyot training), we cut off the cordons to form a head from which all future growth will come. As you can see in the photo, we left a few canes to provide the one-year-old wood for our next season’s growth as seen above. The pink paint seen in the photo is used to seal the area where the cordons were cut to protect the plant from airborne disease vectors like fungal spores.
The next step is to select the two healthiest canes with the proper bud spacing, gently bend them down, wrap them around the trellis wire and tie them down. This will properly space out the coming season’s growth and provide optimum competition between clusters for the plant’s resources, while giving good sun exposure and airflow within the canopy during the coming growing season.
The stubby cane just above the former cordon on the left (see red arrow) is a “renewal stub” that contains the buds that will provide the mature canes to be tied down to the trellis for the 2014 vintage after we cut and remove the canes presently trained on the trellis wire. Unlike the cordon method of training, the canes that form the vine’s “T” shape are removed each year and new one-year-old canes, from the renewal stub, are laid down on the trellis to replace them.
Like the cordon system, a cane pruned vine can be a unilateral (single cane), or bilateral (two cane) configuration based vigor of the plants and the soils they are in. We use a bilateral, or “T” shaped configuration to match the vigor of our vines to the growing conditions of our vineyards and keep our yields in check by limiting the resources available to each cluster through the vine.
The major difference between spur and cane pruning has to do with how the new growth will get its sustenance from the plant. With the spur trained cordon system, the older, thicker cordon supplies what the new growth needs to grow, through the buds on the small one-year-old spur. With cane pruning, the buds on the one year old cane supplies the new growth, helping to control the cluster size and check vigorous growth. The soil the vine is planted in, exposure to sunlight, climate and many other factors help us decide how to balance each vineyard block to produce the best fruit that will ultimately become our wines.
With all of this information, you see that there are a lot of decisions that need to be made even before our vines wake up in the spring. Here’s to a great vintage for 2013!
Jim Gerakaris, CSW