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2011 June 08 | Project Sunlight - A Winemaker's Education

Archive for June 8th, 2011

Goodbye to Grow Tubes Forever!

Apparently there’s no agreed-upon rule book for viticulture.

When we planted Cab Franc vines on our Nelson County property, we followed the advice offered at a class on that very subject at the Piedmont Virginia Community College (great curriculum –the best available in Virginia today), and covered them with grow tubes.  We

Cab Franc Vines in Grow Tubes behind deer fence

did the same for the two Mammolo Tuscano vines which we had received as a gift from Gabriele Rausse, one of the founding fathers of the Virginia wine industry and the instructor for a class on grafting.

At another class over the weekend, we were told, in no uncertain terms, to take them off.  Sigh.

After doing a lot of overnight research, we decided that the grow tubes – ours are the so-called “Blue X,” which consist of a blue plastic insert and a soft-skin translucent blue sleeve – had to go.  But it was kind of a close call.

A lot of the research we looked at suggested that while grow tubes provide a hot-house environment that jump starts the growth of the vines in their early months, they also prevent the vines from achieving their potential. The focus of the first two years is developing a strong trunk and root system.  As Julien, the vineyard manager at DuCard Vineyards, told me, you must be willing to do the work, and to do it when it needs to be done.  And you must be willing to be patient.  The tubes, he added, rushed the process and created a hot-house that could cook the vines to death in the 90-plus degree weather we’ve been having.

My wife, the Vineyard Goddess (and future Vineyard Manager), took Julien’s words to heart and found a good deal of evidence to support the anti-grow tube proposition. Continue Reading–>

June 8, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More
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