Friday, December 2, 2011

Head Training Grapevines In The Midwest

It appears that my vineyard dream is on hold for a few years, barring a financial windfall of some sort, and I have a small backyard. I really don't have enough room for a trellis system, nor does it make financial sense if I'm planning on moving soon (hopefully) anyway. I'd still like to start my viniculture education, and some looking around has led me to the possibility of head training my vines instead.

Head-training is a style of pruning meant for vineyards without trellising. Head-trained vines look like stunted trees, and give little support to the vines save their own mature wood. Head Training includes pruning the vine like a goblet — keeping the center hollow, developing a short trunk and pruning the spurs up in a circular pattern, in the shape of the rim of a glass. The main advantage of head training is obvious — it’s cheap. The disadvantages include: the vine toppling under its own weight; a congested canopy, which makes it an easy target for mildew and rot; and it can be difficult for sunlight to reach the fruit.

This winter, I'll be doing more research into possible varietals that could survive Midwest winters, are appropriate for head trained pruning, and can make decent or better wine at home. I have no idea if it's even possible, but it's worth a shot!


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