Canopy Management: Setting the Stage for Harvest

Have you heard of the term canopy management? The canopy of a grapevine encompasses all the components of the plant that grow above the ground including the leaves, flowers, shoots, trunk, and above all, the fruit. Managing the canopy is an essential step in the grape growing process and can affect grape ripening, yield levels, and overall vine vigor.

From fruit set to verasion to the onset of harvest, our skilled vineyard team tends the vines to carefully position the shoots, thin the shoots, and thin the grape clusters when the timing is right.

Shoot Positioning

This is a labor-intensive process that is not only important for the current growing season, but it also encourages development for next year’s crop. Each new shoot is meticulously oriented into the trellising wire in order to create a uniform distribution of foliage, increase sun exposure, and enhance air circulation for the maturing grapes.

Shoot Thinning

Shoot thinning, in addition to winter pruning, are imperative steps to optimize grape yield and promote fruit quality and balance. Removing excess shoots and leaves promotes the sugar development and acid composition in the grapes as well as improves the development of aromas and flavor compounds. During the summer months when the vine grows about an inch a day, shoot thinning is also needed to prevent shading and entanglement.

Cabernet Sauvignon clusters ripening on the vine at Winston Hill Vineyard | July 2019

Cluster Thinning

In late July to early August, cluster thinning takes place in our vineyards to ensure optimal ripening come harvest time. As a testament to our high-quality standards, any undersized or immature clusters are dropped at this time. By doing so, we can ensure even berry ripening and a balance of vine nutrients between the fruit and the canopy.

Quality to us means taking the extra step. It is demanding work to monitor the crop throughout the growing season, but we understand that our final product will be all the more superior because of the thoughtful decisions we have made.