Behind the Scenes

Video: How to Ripen Grapes on the Vine – Leaf Thinning

How to Ripen Grapes on the Vine at Jordan

After the grapes bloom and tiny berries form into full grape clusters, it’s time for the important practice of leaf pulling, captured in the above video. A crucial step in how to ripen grapes on the vine, our vineyard team pulls leaves away from the area just above a grapevine’s cordon, or arms, where grape clusters grow. Removing targeted leaves allows for increased air movement and dappled light penetration. Cool breezes help keep pest pressure low, and the shaded light creates an ideal environment for the grapes to ripen without getting sunburned. Too much sun often creates overripe flavors (think prunes and raisins) our winemaking team considers undesirable. And grapes that receive too little sunshine will not develop the dark fruit characteristics consistently found in our style of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Typically grapegrowers pull leaves only on the side of the grapevine that receives morning sun, which generally has a lower light and heat intensity, and leave the vine canopy full on the afternoon sun side for increased shade during the hottest time of the day. Not always true at Jordan. Our hillside vineyard blocks are planted at different elevations, directions and exposures, which makes leaf pulling decisions much more strategic. Precision and balance are key.

For more information about grapevine maintenance, read How to Prune Grapevines for Quality Winemaking.

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Ashley Johnson

I liked that you said that one thing that farmers will do to promote good growth for their grapes is to pull the grape leaves only on the side that has the least amount of sunlight and heat intensity. I would imagine that this would help the grapes acquire more sunlight and heat, which will help it reach its growth potential and provide the best flavor for wine. I am interested in learning more about how grapes are grown to their peak in order to provide the best tasting wines.

Lisa Mattson

Hi Ashley,
One of the keys to growing great grapes to make great wines is vine balance. Our winemaker talks about it throughout this blog. If they vine is not in balance, the grapes won’t have balanced flavors. This sometimes requires thinning the fruit throughout the growing season to help the vine achieve balance. Uniformity is also key. If the grapes are growing unevenly, then their flavors will not be in balance. You can search veraison thinning and suckering on our blog home page to see some of these posts.

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[…] our vineyard management team and evaluating the recently completed viticulture practices, such as leaf thinning. Leaf thinning helps to create the ideal microclimate grape clusters need this time of year to […]


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Brent Young

A 2005 harvest intern who returned to Jordan full-time as viticulturist in 2008. Now Director of Agricultural Operations in charge of estate vineyards, precision farming and cattle. Spends free time showing cutting horses and restoring vintage cars, especially Woodies.

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