The Impact of Trellising on Ripening and Quality in Merlot (2017)

Different trellising systems can have a large impact on canopy sun exposure, leaf area:fruit ratios, and yields. Different trellising systems also have different labor requirements for proper management. Determining which trellising system is best for a given site, on a given variety, is therefore very important. This study examines the difference between two training methods – VSP and Scott Henry – on resulting juice and wine quality. Merlot (clone 181) was planted in 2000 and trained as Scott Henry. In 2017, every other row of this block was converted to VSP. All vineyard treatments were identical, with leaf pulling on east side of vine after fruit set. Grapes were harvested on the same day, and all fermentation practices were identical between treatments. There were not many differences in juice and wine chemistry, except for slightly lower tartaric acid in the Scott Henry wine and decreased acidity. Tannin may have been slightly lower in the Scott Henry wine as well. Overall, these wines were not found to be significantly different, but perhaps would have been at more lenient p levels. Descriptive analysis was not completely consistent between tastings. Preferences slightly favored the VSP trellis, but this was not strong. This study should be repeated over multiple years on different grape varieties. More careful attention should be paid to viticultural parameters, such as leaf area to fruit weight ratios, and yield parameters.

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