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Viticulture is the art and science of growing grapes. The grapevine was one of the first crops grown by civilized man. The vines are prolific. They climb up anything and reach high above the surrounding foliage for sunlight. Constant pruning in the vineyard keeps that from happening.

“Good wine is made in the vineyard.” The quality of any wine can only be as good as the grapes used to make it. No matter how experienced you are at making wine, if the grapes are poor, the results will reflect that. You can’t make good wine from bad grapes although bad wine can be made from good grapes. Winemaking is still an art form and good grapes are essential ingredients.

Viticulture involves the knowledge of two basics: planting and pruning. When you plant grapevines you need to ask yourself whether you want quantity or quality. That will resolve how close each vine is planted to the others. Good grapes need nutritional stress. If the vines are planted as close as one yard between each other, the competition for soil nutrients will result in better fruit. You’ll get fewer grapes, but they will be of a better quality. Where grapevines are concerned, you want high density when the soil is less fertile.

Growth is controlled by pruning, which is done in either of two ways. After the growing season, all of last season’s shoots are cut off. Enough potential shoots are left to grow next year’s grapes. Another type of pruning called “green harvest”, involves cutting bunches of grapes from the vine before they ripen. That way, the remaining grapes can get the nutrients that would otherwise have been shared with the castaways.

That’s your basic course in viticulture.