Bordeaux - The Growing environment & Grape Growing - Vineyard management

8 important questions on Bordeaux - The Growing environment & Grape Growing - Vineyard management

For top quality vineyards in Bordeaux, close planting is used. What is it and why is this used?

It is high density planting of vines, to make best use of expensive land.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of close planting at higher density vines (10.000 / ha)?

Closely spaces vines at 10,000 vines per hectare,
  • vines are planted 1 metre apart with 1 metre between the rows.
-->Suitable for infertile soils and resulting in moderate vigour

Disadvantage: Close planting adds to costs as
  • more plants,
  • more trellising have to be bought,
  • specialist over-row-tractors and
  • more time is needed for vine training, ploughing and spraying.

Advantage: Close planting makes best use of expensive vineyard land

Note: Less prestigious appellations are often planted at lower density. AOC Bordeaux at 3-4000 vines/ha

What are the most common vine training methods used in the Bordeaux?

The most common vine training is cane pruning.

1. On the left bank two canes are trained - Double Guyot. On the right bank single cane pruning is used - Single Guyot.

2. Some prestigious estates favour Cordon-pruning, spur pruning is
because it reduces yields and gives better aeration to the bunchens.
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Why is canopy management in the Bordeaux important?

In the moderate, damp climate canopy management is important to reduce the incidence of downy mildew, powdery mildew, botrytis and bunch rot.

Leaf removal takes place during the summer and is intended to improve aeration and deter rot.
Also grapes get more ultra violet  to aid ripening.

Major problems in Bordeaux are Eutypa dieback and Esca, the vines rot from the inside.  What seems to be a popular treatment?

Soft pruning is a style of vine management which involves careful consideration of the nature of the vine and the flow of its sap.  In theory, this creates fewer entry points for disease leading to healthier vines and a more reliable yield.

Why does leaf removal take place and what is the disadvantages of doing so?

Leaf removal can take place on either one or both sides of the row, to give the bunches the benefit of a better aeration.

A disadvantage is that it can sun burn the grapes.

How and why do they remove bunches (bunch-tin) and what is a good alternative?

  • Either by hand or machine
  • They remove bunches to correct vines that are carrying a high yield or to improve concentration of flavour. 
  • An alternative is short pruning in winter.

Is harvest done by hand or machine in Bordeaux

  1. Harvest is done by hand and bigger estates have 100 pickers from other EU countries.
  2. Also machine harvest is done especially in the Northern Médoc (hard to get pickers because far from Bordeaux city / when fungal diseases are a threat) and for high volume inexpensive wines.

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