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Support system

Device for attaching the shoots; see at vine training.

The vine training in a vineyard is an essential factor with regard to the desired yield and wine quality. Especially when establishing a new vineyard or reorganising the cultivation, such as converting to organic viticulture, the measures required for this must be decided. The planned establishment of a vineyard or the planting of vines in compliance with all laws, observance of all criteria and the necessary measures are described in detail under the keyword vine establishment plan.

Definition of the term

There is an abundance of different forms of training to direct the growth of the vine in a very targeted manner. The vine is a climbing plant (liana) that cannot hold itself upright and therefore needs a climbing aid or support structure. The wild v ines mostly climb up young trees and grow upwards with them. For longer cultivation and for the possible use of machinery, the vines must keep their shape and not (which they would do) grow ever higher. Man therefore began thousands of years ago to shorten the shoots and to use artificial support devices such as stakes or sticks, frames and battens with taut cords or wires. A decisive measure in the winter break of the vegetation cycle is pruning, where the one-year-old wood is pruned. Annual measures (winter pruning, summer pruning and foliage management) are used to counteract the effects of apical dominance in order to also maintain the chosen system.

Historical systems

There is evidence from pictorial representations that even the Egyptians deliberately grew vines for wine production. A well-known example is the one from the tomb of Chaemwese in Thebes around 1450 B.C. It depicts various wine-making steps such as grape harvesting and fermentation in containers, as well as the loading of a ship with amphorae. The baldachin-shaped overhead vineyard shown in the picture resembles a pergola or trellis vineyard system. Most of the finds come from the city of Luxor in Upper Egypt. A private vineyard is described in inscriptions from the tomb of Metjen, a high official in the 4th Dynasty (2620 to 2500 BC). He owned a large estate with vineyards in Sakkara in the Nile delta, which are described in the inscription: A very large pond was created, figs and grapes were planted. Trees and grapes were planted in large quantities and a great deal of wine was made from them.

Wandmalerei im Grab des Chaemwese in Theben um 1450 v. Chr. mit Weinbaumotiven

With the Romans, beams were placed on four poles so that a kind of chamber was created. This historical method of cultivation with closed or open chamber construction was still common in German viticulture in the Palatinate at the beginning of the 20th century. The picture on the right shows a medieval depiction of work in the vineyard around the year 1180. This is obviously the form of single-pole training, which was probably widespread in many countries at the time.

Erziehungsform - Kammertbau und Arbeiten im Weinberg um 1180

Criteria for the form of education

The criteria for choosing the ideal vine training are, apart from traditional practices, the soil type, the desired yield, the climatic conditions, the grape variety with its vigour and tendency to grow in height or width, the easier control or preventive prevention of vine diseases as well as the requirements of cultivation. A specific system is also often prescribed by wine law. In Champagne, only four specific training systems are permitted, even depending on the grape variety. In the second half of the 20th century, the methods of cultivation changed drastically. The focus was on rationalisation and the requirements of mechanised vineyard management.

The aim of all cultivation systems is to achieve the best possible foliage structure in order to ensure the desired quality and quantity, to achieve labour-economical advantages and to make optimal use of the available environmental resources. Decisive for the selection is, among other things, whether wine grapes are to be produced for winemaking or table grapes for consumption and which harvesting method (manual or mechanical) is used. The individual forms of cultivation are named, among other things, according to the height of the trunk, the distance between the vines, the way in which the newly growing fruit canes are attached, or even according to the inventor (such as Jules Guyot).

Planting forms

Through the winter pruning determines where and how many new shoots will grow from the remaining winter buds in spring, from which the shape of the vine will develop. With regard to the choice of training system, the following points have an influence on the grape or later wine quality:

Grape zone

The height of the grape zone is a factor in the labour required and the susceptibility to certain vine enemies. The closer to the ground, the more labour-intensive the care and the more likely it is that fungi will get onto the grapes in rainy areas, causing botrytis, downy mildew and black rot in particular. An advantage in northern areas is earlier ripening. The grape zone is between 80 to 130 centimetres and higher. The height has an effect on the exposure (the angle of sunlight) and thus on the distance between...

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