Vine training methods


High-trained, widely-spaced vines

image363The traditional shape of the vineyard, with low trained, narrowly-spaced vines, began to change in the 1960s to one with high-trained, widely spaced vines. High-trained vines limit frost damage and are easier to weed beneath the rows.

Widely-spaced vines make mechanisation easier and greatly reduce production costs, while maintaining sufficient yields, provided pruning is adapted accordingly.

Just under 3,000 vines per hectare: 3 m spacing between rows, 1.20 m between vines

The most common spacing today is 3 m between rows (the maximum being 3.5 m) and 1.20 m between vines in each row, giving just under 3,000 vines per hectare (new plots must have a minimum planting density of 2,200 vines per hectare).

Traditional pruning method: arch-trained or horizontally-tied Double Guyot

image403Annual pruning is mandatory. All methods of pruning are authorised.

The traditional pruning method is arch-trained or horizontally-tied Double Guyot.

On either side of the trunk of the vine, a long branch (called a “cane”) with 8-10 buds is kept, sometimes along with a “spur” with two buds. The canes are attached to two training wires in an arch, or, in an increasingly common, more economical method, are tied horizontally to one wire. In general, approximately 60,000 buds/ha (24,291 buds/acre) will remain after pruning (upper limit, 80,000 per hectare).

Closely-pruned, cordon-trained vines are also present, but this method is less commonly used because it causes rapid vine ageing.

Both low, trained cordons and high, unattached cordons are seen.

Two pruning methods are currently becoming more widespread :

– The high arch, a long, unattached pruning method that combines the advantages of long pruning (fertility, longevity) and the sparing of shoot positioning,

– Alternating every other year between long pruning tied horizontally and spur pruning. Each year, pre-pruning (“pré-taillage”) can be done on the portion of the vineyard that is spur pruned.

Trellis height: approximately 2 meters (6.6 ft)

image461Trellising or shoot positioning consists in lifting the new shoots in June to tie them between training wire.

Then the ends of the shoots can be trimmed to give the plant a square shape. Shoot positioning is one of the lengthiest, most demanding manual operations and it is increasingly mechanised.

Trellis height of approximately 2 meters (6.6 ft) results in low vine density compared to vineyards for producing table wine. This helps limit hydric stress and alcohol levels in the wines.

There is very little work in the vineyard while the vines grow (from budbreak to leaf loss), in contrast to most vineyards producing table wine.

No shoot thinning, no green harvesting, no leaf removal.

Sucker removal (removal of shoots from the trunk), however, is indispensable.