Winegrowers Supplies  -  Vineyard Layout - Training System and Vine Spacing

There are a large number of different training systems in existence, all designed around the fact that vines fruit on one-year-old wood.

There is a optimum number of fruiting buds per square metre of land occupied by the vine. This optimum number varies with vine variety, in the range 5 to 12.

Certain vine varieties (e.g. Dornfelder) do not fruit on the basal buds so require 'long cane pruning'. Other varieties (e.g. Madeleine Angevine, Riesling, Rondo) crop well on the basal buds so can be 'short spur pruned'; although they will yield more when 'long cane pruned'. Short spur pruning is one way of restricting yield and thus achieving higher grape ripeness.

The height at which the grapes will develop, and the amount of sunlight which will fall on the 'leaf wall' and also on the ripening grapes, are other important factors. Grapes which are shielded from sunlight by the leaves tend to have a more 'herbaceous/vegetal' flavour.

In our northerly damp climate the soil contains large numbers of mildew spores, and these rise up more easily on to lower leaves, so the higher the main stock is, and the higher the grapes are, the less disease. Conversely in southern France and Spain, where the soil is very dry and there is little weed growth, they grow the vines very close to the ground in order to benefit from the warmth of the soil.

In cool climate sites there is considerable benefit from growing vines against individual wood stakes; the warmth stored in the wood can advance growth by up to a week.

In UK with 2 or more acres of vineyard I suggest 2.5 metres between rows and 1.6 metres between vines in the rows; this works out at about 1000 vines per acre, and allows room for a smallish tractor (for spraying, leaf cutting etc). I have a 5 foot wide tractor, and can even mole-plough along the rows.
With a 4 foot wide tractor you can reduce the inter-row width to 2.0 metres and improve micro-climate.