Vineyard Manager Ruben Solorzano returned from his research trip to Burgundy brimming with excitement and new ideas. Ruben identified the major difference in approach between French vintners farming old, healthy vines versus those that routinely rip out mature vines due to lack of productivity: The former group fixates on the natural flow of the vine’s energy.
Ruben immediately implemented Flow Theory technique into our younger vines and through the early growing season, we will begin to train our older vines differently as well.
The theory is simple, the vine’s sap-flow naturally travels from the ground upwards and then outwards. As we train the vines to live long, healthy lives; we need to guide growth in the natural direction of the sap flow. Forcing the vine to double back on itself creates a more difficult, weaker flow.
Flow theory might seem logical and even elementary. However, Ruben’s shift refocuses on sap flow’s importance to long-term vine health rather than prioritizing an optimal crop this harvest.
When we begin to shoot thin in May, La Cuadrilla will make special effort to remove potential growth pointed the wrong direction, back inward off of the cordon. In the past, Cuadrilla aimed solely for uniform space in between shoot positions for even ripening.
For any grafting projects in which we chip-bud low on the trunk, we will leave the original, higher growth for an additional year, assuring that the sap flow will continue upwards rather than hitting a literal dead-end. We will cut the original growth only once the newly grafted growth has grown significant enough to maximize the trunk’s sap flow.
Thinking of the vines’ energy flow direction is a natural extension of the pruning technique we focused on earlier in the year. Pruning cuts should be far enough removed from the vine’s sap-flow so as not to create an obstructive canker.
For our new head-pruned vines, an unobstructed sap flow would seem easy enough, as new growth is trained upward each year along one vertical pole. However, with our new technique of pruning further away from the trunk, Ruben worried about a different obstruction: the vines will soon block the narrow three foot wide, high-density rows; rendering it impossible for La Cuadrilla to work.
Thinking about maximizing flow the way the oldest Burgundian vineyards are trained, Ruben will now create spur positions across from one another, on opposite ends of the trunk, encouraging a wide, strong sap flow upwards from the ground. By orienting these spurs along the vine rows, we will also solve the exterior obstruction issue.
Visiting the vineyard, it’s doubtful the average consumer will notice that the vineyard is now in flow – but in fifty years when these same vines are making outrageously delicious wine each year, the flow will be obvious in the glass.