The Northern Grapevine

Vineyard Canopy

Marquette grapes in early July are green and hard.

Summer is in full swing, and that means our grapevines are bursting with green growth! It also means we have a little work to do. In July canopy management entails shoot positioning and lateral pulling. The purpose is to let more sunlight into the canopy to help ripen the fruit and provide greater air movement to prevent disease.

The canopy is every part of the vine above the ground – trunk, cordons, shoots, leaves and grape clusters. This time of year the grapes are hard and green and wind can be blamed for blowing the young shoots every which way, tangling them to form a dense curtain. Skillful canopy management now can optimize crop yield and improve fruit quality later.

marechal foch grape clusters at Victory View Vineyard

Shoot positioning reduces crowding and optimizes grape exposure to the sun. Sunlight on the grapes promotes ripening and flavor development. It also helps control fungal disease because the fungi can't survive in bright sunlight. But grapes, like people can get sunburned if they get too much sun; the trick is striking the right balance of sunshine and shade. So, we walk through the vineyard and systematically position each shoot on the trellis. This allows for optimal sun exposure for ripening and also fosters air movement for disease prevention.

We position the shoots of our northern grapevines to grow vertically, falling down toward the ground from the top wire, maximizing sun exposure to each leaf. Lateral pulling is the process of pulling off lateral shoots that erupt from the main shoot to prevent the canopy getting too dense. Our vineyard's southerly aspect and the north-south orientation of our vineyard rows means that our vines get sun all day long. Photosynthesis in the leaves captures energy to ripen the fruit, so we aim for an average of 15 leaves per shoot.

We make wine only from grapes we grow. So at Victory View Vineyard we carefully manage the vineyard canopy to ensure we have great fruit to produce great wine!