Controlling Quantity and Wine Quality by Carefully Pruning Grape Vines
If you’ve visited northern Michigan in winter or early spring, you’ve probably noticed people pruning grape vines in the region’s vineyards, removing up to 90 percent of the vine. Pruning the vines doesn’t seem very logical to many who aren’t familiar with the process. After all, the more vine you have, the more grapes you get from each one – right?
The reality is that pruning grape vines (the right way) will produce more, better-quality grape clusters. It all has to do with the way grape vines function as plants.
Why Do Vineyard Managers Prune Grape Vines Every Year?
If you’ve ever stopped to examine a professionally maintained grape vine, you might have noticed that the “trunk” of the plant looks like a small tree with bark. Above that, the “canopy” of the plant springs forth from fresh canes. Grapes will only grow from those young, one-year-old canes. This means annual pruning is the only way to maintain a consistent yearly supply of young canes, allowing high-quality grapes to grow. Failing to prune a vine would result in a lower yield and lower quality fruit.
Pruning Also Improves Overall Grape Vine Health
Pruning grape vines is also the best way to maintain a stable and productive trellised vine system. Spacing maximizes photosynthesis in the leaves, which results in improved fruit growth. In addition, several common fungal and viral diseases can be largely avoided by pruning grape vines each winter. A non-pruned grapevine is more likely to develop a disease when its leaves and fruit grow in too thick. Pruning the vine controls its canopy density and reduces disease.
Pruning Grape Vines in Northwest Michigan
For best results, vineyard managers prune grape vines during the dormant winter season. At northern Michigan vineyards, pruning typically happens in March. However, unseasonably warm weather can push pruning up a bit earlier. Most vineyards in our region practice cane pruning, which is a pruning method that involves retaining only a few mature arms of the vine and removing the rest of the growth.
What a Difference Pruning Grape Vines Can Make
Here at Chateau Grand Traverse, our vineyard crew is gearing up for another great season. The process of creating our award-winning wines begins with our late-winter pruning. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor as much as we do.
Stop in the winery for a tasting or visit our online shop to stock up. While you’re sipping a glass of CGT wine, think of our staff out in the fields pruning the vines, enduring the cold to ensure the best possible wines are produced each and every season!