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Vineyard Training

The highly effective vineyard training techniques are also interesting for small rows of vines in the garden, for fences and freestanding espaliers. Especially noteworthy about vineyard training is the fact that usually the vines are trained with short trunks, ie no elaborate stem framework is developed as is common in other training techniques.

Background

In bygone times, every wine-growing region had its own typical training techniques. Vines were either grown as shrubs without any growth supports, or tied to wooden frames. Around 1900 the "Rhine-Hessian Training" became firmly established, a post and wire system using several horizontal parallel wires superimposed upon each other  ("wire frame").

Spatial Requirements

The vines are arranged in rows with the plants usually spaced at approx. 1.5m centres (for 2 canes per vine) or 0.8m (for 1 cane per vine). The trellis area, ie the space between the top and bottom wires, should be approx. 1m high, for smaller layouts in the garden min. 70cm.

Trellis Systems

The type and construction of the Wire Frames depends among other things on the selected training method, and, for larger sites, requires professional advice. For small plantings the wire rope system 0050 is useful.

Training

Selecting the correct training method is best done with professional advice. As an example, the bilateral cane training method as from the 2nd year is illustrated here. Please use also the information under 1st Year.

Pruning after the 5th Year

Each trunk develops a so-called "head," which is annually Cane Pruned. Usually additional Summer Pruning follows.

Image 01: Vines in vineyard after pruning, prior to bending and tying.
Pruning in a vineyard
Image 02: Vines after pruning, unilateral arched canes, buds bursting
Crched canes traning in a vineyard
Vines on wire frame arranged as espalier, along a façade, bilateral arched canes
Row of vines after pruning, bilateral canes (tied as "semi-circles" / half circles).
Semi-circles and half-circles
Timber trellises were the forerunners of wire frames. Detail of a painting by Johannes Köhler 1925, Vineyard near Burgscheidungen. Wine Museum Neuenburg / Freyburg /Unstrut / Sa.- Anhalt
Historic vineyard
Vineyard in the Elb Valley near Diesbar-Seusslitz - Saxony, winter image.
Vineyard near Diesbar-Seusslitz
Horizontal arched canes, bilateral and unilateral, on a freestanding timber trellis
Vineyard with (post and) wire frame
Vineyard with (post and) wire frame
Vineyard near Freyburg / Unstrut
Vineyard near Freyburg / Unstrut
Fruit in a vineyard
Grapes in a vineyard
Wire frame with vines as visual barrier along a village road.
On slopes, usually only 1 cane is used and pruned (here as a "semi-circular arc") and tied facing down the slope.

2nd Year

Trimming back of the fruiting cane to the height of the lowest wire / wire rope.
The cane is supported by a stake (here invisible), occasionally the ties need replacing.
Now the vertical position of the future head is determined, all shoots below are removed. The vine is to produce a maximum of 2 - 3 small grape bunches.

3rd Year

This cut marks the future "head." Practice the bending and twisting up to breaking point with the cut off canes.
Trimming back the fruiting cane to 8 - 12 eyes, later bending / tying, if necessary twist canes slightly to prevent splintering.
Max. 1 water shoot emerging from the "head" is kept, all others, especially those along the trunk (water shoot 02), are removed. Each cane is allowed to produce 1 - 2 grape clusters, all surplus ones are pinched off.

4th Year

The 1st and 2nd shoot on the cane from the previous year remain. The water shoot is spur pruned to a "back-up spur." If there was no water shoot, then the 1. ie the lowest shoot is spur pruned and the 2nd and 3rd remain as new canes. Again: practice bending with the cut off shoots!
The two fruit canes are shortened to approx. 9 - 11 eyes, later bending / tying, twisting the canes well. It is best to fix the canes by winding them 2 - 3 times around the lowest wire (this is not absolutely necessary along walls). Make sure you don't knock off the buds in the process!
1 to 2 water shoots emerging from the "head" can remain, all others, especially those along the trunk are removed. Each cane is allowed to bear 1 - 2 grapes, all surplus ones are pinched off.

5th Year

After thorough initial inspection, select 2 vigorous canes close to the "head," which are well separate and easy to bend to the left and to the right. If at all possible don't use the water shoot for this purpose. You then cut off from left to right: the left cane from the previous year back to just before the lowest shoot; then the right cane from the previous year is cut off completely along with a short bit from 2 years ago, the "back-up spur" is then cut to just before the lower of the 2 canes. Last, the water shoot is cut back flush with the "head," because it is not required this time. Beginners are advised to retain this water shoot as a back-up, until the 2 canes have been tied without breaking.
The 2 lateral fruit canes are shortened to max. 13 eyes, then bending / tying, twisting the canes well and winding them 2 - 3 times around the lowest wire (this is not absolutely necessary along walls). In the following years, always prune back to max. 12 - 13 eyes. Before pruning, always select 2 strong canes first, which are close to the "head" but well separate and which are easily bent laterally, one to the left and the other to the right. After the 6th / 7th year, after having removed many water shoots from the "head," the latter has become more "fertile" through the numerous connations, and it is then possible to use water shoots directly as fruiting canes. In the first years, these water shoots are usually sterile ie the shoots growing from them produce no grapes.
Older vine in a vineyard after pruning, bending and tying, a back-up water shoot is left behind the left cane, which is about to be cut off.