grape thinning

Why grape thinning does not produce more taste.

A philosophical and agroecological view.

At the end of the 1990s a new trend reached Burgenlands red wine scene, after the use of Barrique, “grape thinning” started to get popular. The goal was and is to bring more taste into the wine. My grandmother was not pleased at all, and I still remember that she wrote a letter to the editor to the diocese of Eisenstadt, which was published in their magazine. In this letter she even described crop thinning as an act of blasphemy (the grapes are given by god and should not be put on the ground by humans). These times are over. But even today, a large proportion of the winemakers and wine writers from near and far are preaching this method. And the customers believe it because of the  easy equation: little yield is much taste. We have stopped crop thinning for 10 years now, and here I would like to explain why.

Grape thinning

The vine. The whole year she takes care of her grapes, for a simple reason: generative multiplication. Through the pruning we show the vine that the vegetative enlargement / multiplication is not possible. Therefore, she goes into the generative propagation and produces grapes. It is about the nuclei, which are produced to be carried far into the world by the birds. The shell, so the berry and its pulp, are only there to attract them.

So if half of the grapes are cut off this will stress the vine. Phytohormones are produced and they are forcing a rapid ripening.

From a philosophical point of view, the vine wants to bring the few remaining grapes rapidly into maturity before another “disaster” happens.

This rapid ripening will produce wines with high alcohol and low acid. The wines will taste “sweeter” and will have a shortened life.

Naturally low yield

for example by old vines is different. The vines are in balance and know how many grapes they can produce and bring to maturity. The berries are smaller, less dense and with thicker skins. Even in  stressful situations the vine will bring its berries into the safe haven (the reserves of the old wood will help).

These grapes will have a lower alcohol content and a higher acidity. The thick skins will bring depth and substance into the wine. The higher acidity will help for aging.

This is our way.

And young vineyards?

What about young vineyards, you will ask, vineyards which have not found their balance yet.

From our point of view, there are two possibilities. First, with the biodynamic preparations we try to get our plants early in the phase of the naturally low yield. Secondly, if this fails, we will make a simpler fruity wine. From today’s point of view this is even a trend again. 😉 Like our Franz!

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