Cliff has been busy with shoot thinning some of our vines in our vineyards in the High Plains AVA close to Meadow, Texas. He and Fritz, our vineyard consultant, are teaching the vineyard crews how many shoots to leave and thus how many to trim off. This is something that they haven’t done in a few years as it wasn’t needed. Fruit thinning has been done every year on particular grape varieties in our vineyard, but not shoot thinning. Shoot thinning is an important aspect of growing the best Texas wines.

Cliff Bingham looking at rows of cover crop between the rows of vines of grape vines at Bingham Family Vineyards, Meadow, Texas.

Example of Before and After

As you can see from this photo the vines on the left have been shoot thinned while the vines on the right side have not been. You can also see the ground cover that was planted this year between the rows. We will have an update with more photos about the cover crop results soon.

buds on growing vines at Bingham Family Vineyards

Reasons for Shoot Thinning

Shoot thinning is a crucial viticultural practice employed by grape growers to enhance the quality of wine grapes and ultimately improve the wine’s overall quality. By selectively removing excess shoots from grapevines during the growing season, growers can regulate vine vigor and optimize grape cluster development. This process allows the vine to allocate its energy more efficiently, directing resources towards fewer grape clusters. As a result, the remaining grape clusters receive increased sunlight exposure, air circulation, and nutrients, which promotes even ripening and enhances the concentration of flavors, sugars, and phenolic compounds in the grapes.

Here you can see the shoots that have been clipped laying on the ground. Also, take note of the above-ground irrigation system we are transitioning to, as opposed to the underground one. This system still effectively conserves water usage. Sustainability is a priority for us at Bingham Family Vineyards.

shoots of grape vines on ground after being thinned from vines at Bingham Family Vineyards

Quality Grapes Means Quality Wine

Shoot thinning is vital for making top-quality wine. It helps control grape yield, ensuring a balanced crop load for high-quality wine production. By removing excess shoots, growers prevent overcrowding of grape clusters, avoiding issues like uneven ripening and disease susceptibility that can lower grape quality. Achieving the right balance between vine vigor and grape yield through shoot thinning leads to superior grapes with the ideal sugar-to-acid ratio and flavor complexity needed for premium wines.

Overall, shoot thinning is a proactive step to boost grapevine health and grape quality, resulting in exceptional wines that showcase the unique characteristics of the terroir and grape variety while enhancing the market value of the final product.

Parts of the Grapevine Plant

I found a good website by the Grape Community of Practice (GCoP) with good drawings of a grapevine and depiction of the parts of the plant. This particular article was is attributed to Ed Hellman a former professor at Texas Tech University.

Back to preparing for this years crop of grapes at Bingham Family Vineyards. Growing grapes for our wines as well as for wineries we partner with around the state of Texas.


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