How To Desucker Grape Vines and Why it Matters

What is Desuckering and What Does it Have to Do With Your Wine?

Desuckering. Dee-suk-er-ring. It sounds like such a silly word but we’re pretty serious about it around here. Desuckering is removing some of the shoots that grow from young grape vines.

It’s part of the way we manage vines to produce the best grapes for your wines. Read on or watch the video to see how it works.

Raising Vines is Like Raising Kids

Parents know kids would run wild if you didn’t give them some discipline and direction. Grapes are the same way.

We want to lift our kids (or in this case young grape vines) up to reach for the sky.

If the vines flop onto the ground or drag in the dirt, they can attract detrimental mold, fungus, and insects. So, we do everything we can to guide the vine up as it grows. That includes desuckering.

Removing “Suckers”

The buds at the base of each leaf are called nodes.

The nodes produce shoots that academics call “laterals.” Most farmers call them suckers. We don’t want those suckers becoming part of the plant structure at encouraging it to grow down toward the dirt. So, we break them off. It doesn’t hurt the plant.

Aiming High

Removing the suckers helps these these babies to grow straight and tall. They’ll reach the top guide wires, then branch out about three feet on each side. Those branches are called cordons, or arms.

Structuring vines with six feet long cordons maximizes grape production. It’s just the right amount to let each leaf soak up the sun, and have plenty of air circulation.

As the plant grows, we support the sections between nodes (they’re called internodes) with adjustable ties. We move them up as the vine goes up.

Desuckering Helps Sustainability

By keeping the plant up and off the ground, we naturally prevent mold and mildew. We also naturally keep bugs away. This all helps minimize the use of herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides in the vineyard.

All that mulch you see at the base of our vines also helps with our sustainable grape growing and wine making efforts. Check out this mulching blog post to see how.

Better Taste & Better For The Earth

Desuckering is a long process. By the time we get through the entire vineyard, we have to start all over again. But it’s worth it to produce our grapes sustainably.

Plus, If we keep up with desuckering while the vines are young, when they mature they will produce excellent fruit.

You can taste the difference in your wine. It’s like the difference between tasting a home grown tomato and a mass produced tomato from the grocery store. Well loved vines produce grapes that make wines bursting with wonderful flavors and aromas.

You can raise your glass to that!

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