Getting the vine ready for the sun with defoliation

Summer is here! Let’s get the vine ready for the sun with defoliation. While May was the month dedicated to suckering and leaf pulling, in order to prepare the shoot to give us the best grapes, in June we are busy with another very important phase of the care of our beloved vines: defoliation.

What is defoliation?

The defoliation of the vine physically involves the elimination of 5 / 6 leaves nearest the grapes. This means the shoot is cleared of any remaining flowers and sapless leaves.

Defoliation is another very delicate phase which must be done knowledgeably, as more leaves are left at the part of the vine that gets more sun to avoid it getting burned.
This procedure allows the plant to be protected against possible diseases and parasites.

In this way, we foster the correct development of the grapes, despite losing some where necessary. In compensation we respect the quality that we have always guaranteed.

Why is it important to carry out defoliation in June?

June is the first month of summer! Not only is it the hottest period of the year, but it is also when the vineyards get ready to give us their fruits.
It is therefore important to carry out defoliation in this period because the hot and humid climate which develops within the vineyards, if left too thick and bushy, makes them vulnerable to pathogenic agents, hence damaging the harvest.

How does defoliation take place?

Here at Fattoria Santo Stefano, we love respecting ancient traditions. This is why defoliation strictly takes place by hand, to protect the grapes as much as possible.

We avoid shears, except in extreme cases where a sickle is used to prune. We clear and attach the long shoots coming out of the trellis, which would otherwise compromise the plant.

What follows is the removal of any groups of leaves. In this way, the plants are ready to welcome new bunches of grapes which start to glimpse the light and grow bigger.

It is a very intense job that must follow the weather conditions accompanying the period. In actual fact, the weather in June alternates between sudden heavy rain and hot sun, which gives the plants strength.

Lastly, in order to give homogeneity, we use a vineyard trimmer to cut the higher shoots. This mechanical procedure gives a more balanced result.