Vine Balance: A Competition in the Vineyard

A few weeks ago, Mom and I were curled up in the living room watching the Olympics. We were both watching Simone Biles do her balance beam routine. Naturally, when I heard that Jesus and Martin were headed to perform some vine balance on the Chambourcin, I was pretty excited. Was I going to have an Olympics-worthy gymnastics routine in my very own vineyard?

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.

You can’t imagine my disappointment when I sauntered to those vines and found the guys steadily cutting grape clusters and dropping them on the ground to rot. They were letting food go to waste, and I couldn’t even eat it – grapes are toxic to dogs. I was completely confused, but I didn’t want anyone to know. 

I came back to the house to do some thinking and investigating where nobody else could see me; you can’t imagine my surprise when I found out that vine balance actually refers to having the proper balance of vegetation and fruit on the vines. 

Here is a picture of our Vidal Blanc vines. You can see that they are hanging heavy with fruit, but they have a vigorous canopy to support them.

Next, you can see our Cabernet Franc grapes. They have a smaller canopy, but they also have a smaller berry load. Smaller canopies are often desired on Cabernet Franc, as exposure to sunshine can help to decrease the number of pyrazines (the enzyme that gives the vegetative or green pepper notes).

Finally, you can see our Chambourcin is a prolific fruiter – as this French-American hybrid is known to be. The lighter canopy doesn’t provide enough energy to properly ripen the grapes if the bunches aren’t thinned. 



Jesus and Martin dropped (a common vineyard term for thinning clusters) about a third of the fruit load.






This is an important maintenance task as veraison is taking place. Veraison is the time in the grape life cycle when berries begin sweetening up and changing colors/translucence – you can read more about it here. As the vines sweeten, you will see us cover them up with white netting. This keeps them safe from birds and other creatures who might eat them.

I hate to rush out of here, but Simone is about to do an interview about her two puppies: Lilo and Rambo, and I can’t miss it!