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Every vineyard owner must perform, year after year, the monotonous chore loving task of trimming the vines.

Which means turning a tangle like this:

Untrimmed vine

Untrimmed vine.

Into this:

Trimmed vine.

And do that over and over and over again a few thousand times. And to get that all done before the next winter sets in.

Trimming vines is not haphazard at all, because how a vine is trimmed and trained can have a significant impact on the health of the vine and on the quality of the wine it will eventually produce. So there is actually a method to the madness.

As I always say, a good wine maker is always planning and seeing into the future. Not just tomorrow, but years down the road, much like a Wizard or Shaman (a.k.a: a Taltos in Hungarian) looks into the future. They are not only thinking about how to best age a wine, but they are also planing a wine growing season years in advance. So in this case trimming the vine simply follows a design that was pre-determined and laid down by the vine trimmer a year ago. For those that can read the signs, the trimming task has already been planned. In other words,  how and why one makes this year’s cuts are not arbitrary at all, but were entirely pre-planned 12 months ago.

Can you see the method of pre-planning from the two pictures above? Look at the untrimmed vine picture and try to see the planning that was incorporated into the vines growth last year. When you think you have found the hidden method, and only then, take a look at the solution provided below.

Okay. So how was this done? To answer this, we must first of course recognize that the method of trimming here is a cane and stub cut. In this method one long cane and a short stub, of two to three buds, are left on the vine each year in each direction along the support wire and everything else is cut away (also called a “double Guyot” method of trimming and training the vine since two canes and two spurs are left). The two retained canes provide this year’s growth, while the two retained stubs will be used to grow each cane for next year’s growth. To trim a vine using this training regime one simply finds last year’s stubs, selects one of the canes on each stub, and removes pretty much everything else (not forgetting to leave two stubs for next year of course). This is further explained in the images below:

Last years stubs

Last year’s growth stubs are marked with black lines. These were planned as the source of this year’s canes 12 months ago.

Stubs with buds

Two canes are selected to be retained on last year’s stubs and everything else is cut away except two stubs with two buds each for next year’s canes. The buds on the stubs are shown circled in red.

Why leave two stubs with two buds each and not just one stub with two buds or two stubs with only one bud each? After all, we only need two canes next year, so why let four canes grow? Simple answer: insurance. Frost, disease, mechanical injury may all damage any of the buds left for next year’s growth, so two buds are left to grow four canes in total as a hedge against such disaster.

So, in the end, not so difficult after all, once you get the hang of it.