The grapevine has a primary trunk that is trained up a treated grapestake, then an “arm” (cordon) from the trunk is laterally trained along a wire system extending a few feet from each side of the trunk. The two arms develop shoots that are eventually trained up to a higher wire system where the fruit will form and “hang” until they ripen and are harvested in the fall. After harvest and once the vines go dormant in the winter, the shoots are pruned back to form “spurs” on the arms in preparation for new growth in the spring. Grapevines that are not properly pruned in the winter become twisted and straggly, growing wild and developing lesser quality fruit sets due to excess vine and leaf growth. Proper pruning ensures healthy vines and quality fruit.
Trellised grapevine systems are more expensive and labor-intensive to build than staked grapevines due to the need for additional equipment such as end posts and mid posts, galvanized wire, earth anchors, and related supplies. Some varietals thrive better on trellised systems, while others grow just as well on either staked or trellised systems. Table grapes, for example, are better grown on trellised systems, while most types of wine grapes thrive just as well on stakes alone. Also, for home vineyards, preference for a trellis or stake system may be nothing more than how the homeowner wants the vineyard to look. In my opinion, neither looks better or worse than the other…it’s all a matter of what the homeowner likes and wants.
Each vineyard that we plant is first planned out using special software. Everything that is needed for planting, from the number of vines, stakes, wire, etc. to the types of equipment, is listed for easy reference. Each plan differs according to each vineyard’s particular nuances and the desires of the homeowner. Following, you wil see the plan for each of three trellised vineyards, to include actual “before and after” pictures. The owners of the first two vineyards enjoyed their first harvests in the fall of 2008, and their fruit was excellent. The third vineyard was only recently planted in March of 2009, and we expect them to enjoy a small first harvest as early as the fall of 2010.
This vineyard is located in Alta Loma (foothills of Rancho Cucamonga) and is primarily Petite Sirah, with a small number of zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon vines. Note the attention to detail on the plan. The Vineyard was dubbed “Rocky Top” due to the very rocky and alluvial soil which made it very challenging to sink the posts and dig holes for the vines. Many vines love this type of soil, while others prefer different growing conditions. We can help you determine what grapevine varietals will thrive in your soil.
We now use an alternative to the traditional paper plant tubes, called Blue X tubes, which provide the plants with filtered blue light. This blue light has been shown to encourage growth in younger vines to a rate 150% faster than traditional methods.
After only one growing season, the vines and canes have grown enormously, stretching out in all directions, but carefully trained along the trellis wires. At this point, winter has arrived in Cucamonga and the vines have lost their leaves, hanging almost lifelessly on their trellis, asleep in anticipation of spring.
And now, it’s late winter…in preparation for the spring, the vines have been appropriately pruned and look clean and bare. But, oh, when spring comes!
And with spring comes the wonder of new life and abundant growth. These are third year vines that will bear the wonderful fruits of a first harvest. And from this first harvest of Petit Sirah, with a smattering of Zinfandel and Cab, an award winning wine in 2008!
Following, our first plan for a terraced and trellised vineyard in the backyard of a dear friend. Not the easiest home vineyard ever installed, by any means, due to the slope of the terrain and the extremely rocky and alluvial ground. But the result was excellent, and the first harvest of the Cabernet Sauvignon fruit in 2008 was also an award-winner!