INSIGHTS #1 - Goblet Vine Training

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THE GOBLET VINE TRAININGThis vine training method, typical in Etna area, is very old and has been used since ancient times: before the phylloxera, this is the most widespread system in Europe. Goblet vines are very common in the warmer wine producing areas, like Rhone Valley of Southern France or some areas in California (especially for old vine Zinfandel). Usually three or four canes are allowed to remain at the end of each year, but this number varies depending on the region. The rest of the canes are pruned at the end of the growing season...

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INSIGHTS N.1:

THE GOBLET VINE TRAININGThis vine training method, typical in Etna area, is very old and has been used since ancient times: before the phylloxera, this is the most widespread system in Europe. Goblet vines are very common in the warmer wine producing areas, like Rhone Valley of Southern France or some areas in California (especially for old vine Zinfandel). Usually three or four canes are allowed to remain at the end of each year, but this number varies depending on the region. The rest of the canes are pruned at the end of the growing season. This method effectively keeps grapes near the ground and allows them to continue to ripen at night due to the heat retention of the soil. This fact explains why its generally not used in cooler climates: because it can expose grapes to frostbite.

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Goblet vines consist of a trunk topped with a broader head at the top of the permanent part of the vine. Canes grow from the head of the vine each year. Permanent branches of the vine are trained, and only the new, barkless canes are pruned each year. These vines are resilient to weather and disease, but are labor intensive to harvest, and unfertile soils are necessary, or the vines growth may touch the ground and lead to unwanted propagations.

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Example of quinconce goblet vine training

The Latin agronomists love to plant in staggered rows (quinconce). It is a kind of grid that has three functions at the same time: 1) facilitates counting of the trees 2) maximum use of the available space 3) the vineyard gives to the environment a harmonious, orderly look. Each vine is an individual, therefore, the set of plants in a vineyard forms a community. In the globet vine training, each plant has a homogeneous

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space. It s a three-dimensional training system (unlike all the others: guyot, espalier, pergola...). Such a vineyard enjoys with an optimal balance, because each plant is to be located at the vertices of an equilateral triangle with regular equidistance between any vine and vine. Thus cultivated, the vines are forced to push their roots to a greater depth and thus avail themselves of the minerals constituents that are found in the deeper layers of the soil. In the goblet vine training, each plant develops with the time its own autonomy and balance: due to the equidistance between the vines and their height, which excludes almost entirely the shadow of a plant over another, each vine is exposed sunlight, both direct and indirect (from the refraction of the ground). Therefore, traditionally the plants are placed on chestnut wood poles which become extremely characteristic for the landscape.

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Why is a so effective vine training system so little adopted nowadays? The main reasons are: 1) its very expensive. It is not mechanized, almost all agronomic must be handmade. On average, 1 hectare of vineyard requires 100 days of work per year. 2) specific skills are required. To ensure the most correct management of this kind of vineyard is necessary that the vinegrower has a very specific professional skills, and a very long experience in the region where he operates. It is a skill acquired over the years, often it has been handed down for generations, and it is impossible to find in foreign workers coming from countries with no viticultural tradition. (*)

(*) notes from Salvo Foti: Etna I

Vini del Vulcano, Giuseppe Maimone Pub., 2005

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