Greg Schultz
 
June 26, 2016 | Greg Schultz

Thinning and Tucking

 

One of Glory Oaks Vineyard's Namesake Trees

The photo above was taken late one recent afternoon. Our Tempranillo block is to the left of the white oak tree, with the Malbec behind and to the right.  Warm temperatures have brought on rapid early season growth. The Malbec vines are in their second growing season, are healthy, and are doing well. They don't require too much attention right now. Third-leaf Tempranillo is quite another story.

Grape vines grow fast! The vine sustains itself by putting out multiple shoots which can be very long and gangly. This is good for the vine, but not necessarily good for high quality wine grapes nor for the farmer. These long shoots need to be thinned and tucked throughout the growing season. Thinning is the process of going through each vine and removing the extra shoots so as to give the remaining ones greater and more even access to the available sunlight. If not done, the vine becomes a tangled mess and the fruit quality suffers. Sometimes birds take refuge and build nests. :}

Tiny Bird Nest Nestled in Tempranillo Vine

Preferrably, thinning comes just before tucking. Out of necessity, though, sometimes the order has to be reversed. To make farming a vineyard a bit easier (and to provide for even sun distribution to the plants), grape vines are normally trained to grow upright and are held in place by trellis wires. Left to their own, though, these long shoots most likely would end up growing out and down to the ground where a tractor running between the rows would run over them. So tucking involves manually weaving the shoots up through the wires to make a clean, neat canopy. The grapes like this and so do the farmers! As the shoots continue to grow upwards, the trellis wires are moved up to catch them. At long last, the wires are as high as they can go, and the vines are still growing so they must be hedged--a likely topic for next month's blog.

Early Morning Photo of Thinned and Tucked Vines

One day closer to a harvest...

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