As mentioned on
the next page in my 100 Points for World Beating Wine, half of these
techniques take place in the vineyard and the remaining half in the
winery. One technique that I thought was so obvious that I didnt
even mention it is correct vine spacing. Our grapevines were originally
spaced seven feet apart and eleven feet between rows. About nine feet
would be the minimum between rows in my opinion so the vines wouldnt
overly shade one another but we set eleven feet spacing to allow safe
tractor usage on our hillside rows. The spacing between the vines
themselves is another matter; there you need to give each vine enough
space so it can spread out according to its vigor. In six feet of
space, typical vines in the Napa area ideally fill the entire six
feet with foliage and then use their remaining energy for their grapes.
When vines are spaced more closely, they tend to grow too vigorously
in all directions. This poses problems. First, with the crowded shoots,
it becomes very difficult to fully expose the grapes to sunlight.
(It became known only in the 1980s how important sunlight on the grapes
is in eliminating the herbaceous flavor of wines). Second, closely
spaced vines tend to channel their energy into growing leaves rather
than growing grapes, thus diminishing flavor in the grapes.