After being introduced to “Sunlight into Wine”, a grapevine handbook, we have tried to take every aspect of growing a healthy grapevine canopy to heart. Let’s face it. Tennessee is not the most conducive to growing anything that is susceptible to mold and mildew. Sometimes we feel like we are living in a veritable rainforest. So not only do we need to choose our grapestocks carefully to fit this environment and amend our souls, but we need to create a succinct and elaborate plan for getting those babies to grow in the right directions. The growth of foliage above the trunk and arms of the vine is called the canopy, and it needs structure, support, breathability, and Sunlight.
If you live in a wetter climate, and you want to grow grapevines that are susceptible to molds, your canopy needs to breathe. Sunlight needs to dry out the dew in the morning and hit your grape clusters throughout their stages of growth. Seven hours a day will give your grape leaves the nutrition they require.
That being said, we go through our vineyards throughout the year pulling leaves around clusters and suckering lateral shoots which can overcrowd and suck energy from your main canopy section. We train each grapevine arm to set shoots in the right direction, and we tend to each shoot over the season. It’s elaborate and tedious, but I promise you, once you have mastered the timing, this makes an amazing difference in the quality and yield of your production.
Goodwater Vineyards started on a whim. My father, Dr. Michael Hood, always had fantasies of having his own vintage and threw caution to the wind by ordering a few thousand grapevines. Yes, I said a few thousand. He hadn’t even bought a tractor when he called his neighbor, our very own Ronnie Moorefield, to see if he would come help him plant a vineyard. Ron said sure, and the rest is history. We have learned so much since then. Be it Trial by fire or through consultation, our practices have improved dramatically. And the most important advice we have concerning growing your grapevine babies in the southeast is LET THEM BREATHE! A canopy that is too thick will keep clusters shaded and although you may harvest tons and tons from giant canopies, that does NOT mean the grapes are prime for wine y’all. Good canopy management produces all the right acid and sugar balance needed for good wine. So let the sunlight in!