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William Jarvis, 14, William Jarvis and Leticia Jarvis kneeling to see the 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. A warm summer and better vineyard and winery practices made this the best harvest ever to date!


The Jarvis Vineyard The Great Decision on Vine Spacing

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 didn’t 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 wouldn’t 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.


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