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Exploring Grapevine Training Systems for Wine Production

  • May 31, 2024
  • By The Silver Fox

Learn about all the different grape vine training systems like Wagon Wheel, T Trellis, VSP, Guyot, and Pergola.

Grape vine training systems are critical in viticulture, influencing grape quality, yield, and vineyard management efficiency. These systems guide the growth of the vines, optimize sunlight exposure, improve air circulation, and facilitate harvesting.

Different methods are employed based on the grape variety, climate, and desired wine style. Here, we'll explore several common grape vine training systems, including the Wagon Wheel, T Trellis, and more.

What's really cool is that after reading this article, see if you can identify the different pruning styles and trellis systems that your favorite producer uses in their vineyards.

Wagon Wheel Trellis System in Vineyard

1. Wagon Wheel (or Goblet/Head Training)
The Wagon Wheel vineyard trellis system, also known as Goblet or Head training, is a traditional method often used in regions like the Rhône Valley in France and parts of Italy.

Characteristics:

Structure: Vines are pruned to have a short trunk with several arms radiating outward, resembling a wagon wheel or goblet.

Sunlight Exposure: Allows even exposure to sunlight, which is crucial for ripening grapes.

Air Circulation: Enhanced air movement around the vine reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

Suitability: Ideal for regions with hot climates and for grape varieties that benefit from reduced canopy density, like Grenache and Syrah.

Pros: - Simple and cost-effective to implement. - Reduces the need for complex trellising systems.
Cons: - Labor-intensive for pruning and harvesting. - May not support high-yielding varieties as effectively.

T Style Trellis System in Vineyard

2. T Trellis
The T Trellis vineyard trellis system is a straightforward and widely used method, particularly suited for vigorous grape varieties.

Characteristics:

Structure: Consists of a vertical trunk with horizontal arms extending from the top, forming a 'T' shape.
Support: Utilizes wires to support the vine's growth horizontally.
Sunlight and Airflow: Promotes good sunlight exposure and air circulation, reducing disease risk.

Pros: - Provides excellent support for heavy grape clusters. - Simplifies mechanical harvesting and pruning.

Cons: - Requires initial investment in trellis construction. - May need regular maintenance to ensure structural integrity.

 

Vineyard tours and picnics

3. VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning)
VSP or vertical shoot positioning vineyard trellis system is one of the most popular training systems, especially in cool climate regions like Burgundy and Oregon.
Characteristics:
Structure: Vines are trained to grow vertically with shoots positioned upright and tied to wires.
Sunlight Exposure: Maximizes light interception by maintaining an open canopy.
Air Circulation: Improved airflow reduces disease pressure.

Pros: - Facilitates mechanical operations such as spraying and harvesting. - Allows for precise canopy management and fruit zone exposure.
Cons: - Labor-intensive to maintain shoot positioning and canopy management. - May not be ideal for very vigorous varieties without appropriate canopy management.

Vineyard tours and picnics

4. Guyot (Single and Double)
The Guyot system, named after Dr. Jules Guyot, is commonly used in many European vineyards, particularly for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Characteristics:

 Structure: In Single Guyot, one cane is trained horizontally, while Double Guyot uses two canes.
Flexibility: Offers flexibility in managing vine vigor and adjusting to different vineyard conditions.
Yield Management: Allows precise control over the number of buds, thus managing yield and grape quality.

Pros:
- Adaptable to various grape varieties and growing conditions.
- Simplifies winter pruning and spring training.

 Cons:
- Requires skilled labor for pruning and training.
- Initial setup can be labor-intensive.

Vineyard tours and picnics

5. Pergola
The Pergola vineyard trellis system, traditional in regions like Italy and Argentina, provides a unique approach to training vines.

Characteristics:

Structure: Vines are trained over a horizontal framework, creating a canopy that shades the fruit.

Sunlight and Temperature: Protects grapes from intense sunlight and high temperatures, beneficial in hot climates.

Air Circulation: Adequate airflow helps prevent diseases.

Pros: - Protects grapes from sunburn and excessive heat. - Can enhance certain aromatic qualities in grapes.

Cons:
- Labor-intensive to maintain and harvest.
- Requires substantial initial investment in trellis construction.

Summary Choosing the right grape vine training system is crucial for successful viticulture. Factors like climate, grape variety, vineyard topography, and desired wine style all play a role in determining the best system. Whether opting for the traditional Goblet, the efficient VSP, or the protective Pergola, each method offers unique benefits and challenges.
By understanding these systems, viticulturists can optimize grape quality and vineyard productivity, ultimately crafting exceptional wines.

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