Medal winner wine: spur pruning vs. cane pruning

spur pruning or cane pruning for the Merlot vines?

Welcome to another episode of wine making 101. Due to the continuing frigid May weather the progress of the vines is not nearly as impressive as I had expected. So, I have elected to try to show you the difference between spur pruning and cane pruning. The object is to get delicious types of red wine no matter what method you choose.  The spur pruning  method (cordon royat) is when you leave a branch attached to the supporting wire year after year and you trim the shoots down to one or two eyes which will give you new growth each year. We use what is called a double cordon royat where two branches, one in each direction, remain attached each year. We generally try to limit the shoots to not more than four on each side which helps us limit our yields. You can see by the photos that double cordon royat (spur pruning) has shoots that are generally equal in size  from one end to the other which will give us a relatively consistent grape quality come harvest time. In comparison, with cane pruning method, (guyot) we select a new branch each year and generally go to just one side with it. We try to limit the length to 8 eyes (potential shoots). When you look at the picture illustrating this method you will notice that the growth at the end of the cane is superior to the shoots closer to the trunk of the vine. This unbalanced growth will continue throughout the entire growing period and the grapes at the furthest point from the trunk will be larger and generally less well balanced. This is why we have chosen the spur pruning method for the vast majority of our vines. One down side to the spur pruning method is that it is not recomended if you choose to harvest by machine because it could significantly shorten the life of the vines. We prefer to hand harvest when we can,  so it does not bother us. By the way , anyone interested in harvesting for food and delicious red wines can sign up any time this summer. Harvest runs from late September to mid October and we go from 7AM to about 1PM to make sure we get the grapes in at a cool enough temperature. Then we eat and drink and I have not seen anyone leave disappointed in the past 5 years. OK that’s it for this week. I don’t have my son here to correct my babblings because he is at the London international wine fair, so I hope this is legible.

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

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North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.