Pruning Pruning commences in the month following the harvest, as soon as the leaves start to fall, and continues until mid-December. It resumes in mid-January, after the winter dormant period, continuing until late March or such time as the vine reaches the four-leaf stage (when all pruning must cease). Pruning encourages the sap to flow towards the fruit-bearing buds, favouring a good balance of vigour and produc- tivity. Pruning gives the vine its shape, avoiding tightly packed foliage so as to encourage photosynthesis and create space for air to circulate between the clusters. Pruning also regulates vine development, rejuvenating ‘leggy’ plants by hard pruning at regular intervals. Pruning Picking up of the vine shoots 16 Chablis-pruned and tied-up vine Cordon-pruned and tied-up vine Chablis training, before pruning Cordon training, before pruning
Pruning is the most fundamental of all the vineyard tasks. It is a purely manual activity which requires a specific training and a distinctive diploma. In Champagne, it has been regulated since 1938. There are four approved pruning methods in Champagne: - Chablis pruning: long pruning on long canes. - Cordon and Cordon Permanent pruning: short – or spur – pruning, on a single unilateral long cane. - Guyot pruning: long pruning on short canes which may be single, double or asymmetric. - Vallée de la Marne pruning (exclusively reserved for Meunier vines): long pruning on short canes. Whatever the method of pruning, the average maximum number of fruiting buds per vine must not exceed 18 per square metre of vineyard. As pruning draws to a close in late March/early April, the next task – also manual – is to tie-up the vines before the onset of flowering. The shoots are attached to the suppor - ting wires, so avoiding unruly growth and preparing the vines for summer maintenance. Pruning Double-Guyot pruning 17 Double-Guyot-pruned and tied-up vine Vallée de la Marne-pruned and tied-up vine Guyot training, before pruning Vallée de la Marne training, before pruning
Summer maintenance Budburst marks the start of seasonal growth and with it a series of tasks aimed at limiting yields and promoting good-quality fruit. Desuckering usually takes place in mid-May and refers to the manual removal of non-fruitful shoots, encouraging the vine to focus its energies on the fruit- bearing shoots At the pre-bunch closure stage when the shoots are 50 centimetres long, they must be lifted and attached to wires running some 30 centimetres above the support wires. Known as lifting , this operation is still done by hand but could become mechanized as vineyards opt to install vine spacers. The next task, also manual, is trellising : separating the shoots and stapling them to wires. This improves leaf distribution, allowing maximum light Summer maintenance Desuckering Lifting 18
penetration and also encouraging air circulation that prevents rot. Trellising is essential for Champagne vines since high-density planting significantly increases the leaf area index. The dense leaf canopy must be evenly distributed
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