Hatfield Creek Vineyards & Winery, Ramona Valley, California

Leaf thinning

Blog 🕔June 25, 2010

When we decided to buy property in the Ramona AVA to plant a wine grape vineyard, we immediately joined the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA), even before we’d made an offer on property. That was January 2006, the month that Ramona received its AVA designation from the Federal government. We went to each monthly meeting, began reading anything we could find on the topic of vineyard management and in 2007 went to seminar sponsored by the RVVA.

The instructor at the seminar was very good, but one of the topics he discussed was “leaf thinning”. Having just planted our first 300 Petite Syrah vines a few months before, we had no idea what leaf thinning was. He described the process as removing leaves from above and below each grape cluster (we didn’t have any grape clusters yet). This is to allow dappled sunlight to reach the grapes for optimum ripening, often reducing the herbacious characteristics that can show up in wines. When someone asked, “How many leaves do you remove?” the reply was, “If a naked person walks by on the other side of the vine, you shoud be able to tell if they are a man or a woman!”

So here it is June 2010, and I am now getting to do leaf thinning for the very first time. And now I finally “get it”. The fruit grows in the area between the cordon (horizontal wire along which the vine is trained to grow) and the first “fruiting” wire. The cordon in our vineyard is 3 feet off the ground. The first fruiting wire is a foot above that. If I have thinned correctly, and a naked person walks by on the other side, I would be able to see them from their waist down! I’m still waiting for the day Norm accomodates me in that regard.

Cheers,
Elaine