The Vineyard: Leaf Thinning

So far we’ve discussed the vineyard in terms of its sense of place and preparing for spring.  Right now in Mendoza in the midst of growing season, the vineyard and, more specifically, the canopy, is being actively managed. Our vineyard is maintained by a dedicated, diligent team who manage it by hand throughout the year.

To maintain the vineyard during the growing season, important choices are made involving canopy management by trimming back leaves from the bundles of grapes (others of note include irrigation and controlling vine vigor, but we’ll save those for another time).

The purpose of canopy management is to achieve optimum leaf and fruit exposure to the sun while decreasing the risk of disease and maintaining the intended quality-to-yield ratio.

Our leaf thinning strategy centers around the principle that controlled vine vigor and greater sun exposure results in higher quality grapes. Since the sun is stronger when it is setting, more leafing is done on the eastern side to expose grapes to more light and more leaves are left on the western side for more protection.

 

Well Kept Bundles

Pruning the leaves so they protect grape bundles from the sun during the hottest time of day is common practice in canopy management.

 

The latest studies about sun exposure suggest the following:

- Light is of crucial importance to bud fertility; the light received during the preceding season determines the fertility in the current year;

- It has a direct impact on the wine’s aroma and color;

- Increased evaporation due to greater sun exposure results in higher concentration of the berries; and

- It helps develop the red color in the berry skins which plays a strong role in the wine’s character.

In a couple of months, closer to harvest, the dry climate in the Uco Valley means the grapes are less likely to rot and can be harvested later; one of the reasons why the 2012 and 2013 harvests were so good.

Great harvest, great wine.

Feb 9 2014

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