The Effect of Canopy Area on Ripening and Wine Quality, Rosemont of Virginia (2018)

Rosemont of Virginia experiences high heat and fast ripening in Merlot leaving less time for phenolic maturation. Hedging of vines, in addition to preventing adverse effects of shading, can also slow ripening due to decreased photosynthetic surface area. The purpose of this trial was to examine the effects of three hedging heights on the ripening kinetics, resulting grape and wine chemistry, and sensory properties. Vines were hedged to 36, 44, or 52 inches beginning in early June. Hedging heights were maintained through harvest. Short canopy vines showed delays in veraison and ripening, allowing for a later harvest in the short canopy treatment. These vines had lower yield than medium or high canopy treatments. Fruit from short canopy treatment had higher YAN, higher brix (due to later harvest) and higher pH. Resulting wines showed an increase in potassium and pH with diminishing canopy height. Short canopy wines had lower anthocyanin concentration but higher concentration of seed phenolics. There were no significant sensory differences among the wines.

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