Trellising Vertical Shoot Positioning

When looking at pictures of an established vineyard, it can be hard to remember that grape vines are not always the tame, manicured plants we commonly see. Grape vines are climbing vines, which can form to a wide variety of shapes and styles. The meticulous organization characteristic of modern vineyards is attributed not to the intrinsic nature of the plant, but to the trellis system – the wires and stake infrastructure of a vineyard used to train these malleable vines to the optimal size and shape. These systems are crucial in viticulture to control vine vigor and yields, optimize air movement and attain the perfect fruit to leaf ratio.

Pinot Noir vineyards are commonly planted using a trellising and vine training system called Vertical Shoot Positioning, or VSP. In this canopy management system, movable wires are used to contain the new vine growth and train vine shoots in a narrow, vertical curtain. VSP trellising is ideal for small, low vigor vines such as Pinot Noir due to narrow row spacing, maximum light penetration and optimum airflow. This positioning has played an integral role in cultivating the extreme Sonoma Coast, as VSP spacing and light maximization encourages fruit ripening and development in the otherwise challenging, cool climate, while optimum air flow decreases risk of mildew and rot to which Pinot Noir is susceptible.

As viticulture research has made leaps and bounds over the past decades, winemakers and viticulturalists have been able to push the boundaries on where fruit of superior depth and quality can ripen. VSP trellising has played an integral role in the cultivation of the extreme Sonoma Coast.