Watch the suckering process in this video to learn why shoot thinning is so important to making quality wine.
The three most important vineyard management steps in the annual lifecycle of a grapevine are pruning in the winter, suckering (also known as shoot thinning) in the spring, and of course, harvest in the fall. The ongoing rainfall and warm temperatures this spring have made suckering quite a challenge: The moisture is making the vines grow more canopy than we desire. Our vineyard team usually makes one pass through the vineyards to remove unwanted shoots by hand, but this season, the vines required two shoot-thinning passes in order to redirect the vine’s energy toward less shoots and thus less clusters of grapes to concentrate flavors. Shoot thinning is also the first step in allowing filtered light to penetrate the inside of the canopy, assisting with flavor development during ripening. This task also allows for better air movement within the cluster microclimate—a natural remedy for fungal diseases, such as botryis and powdery mildew.