Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

cultivation, the vineyard process of ploughing the soil, normally to kill weeds. The type of cultivation and its frequency vary from region to region around the world. Initially cultivation was by hand-held hoes. Animals were subsequently used to pull ploughs. For modern vineyards, tractor-mounted discs or tines disturb the topsoil and kill weeds. Cultivation within the vine row requires a special plough that will avoid trunks. Initially these were manually operated to dodge in and out; later, touch or electronic sensors were used to activate a hydraulic mechanism. Because of root and trunk damage, this practice was replaced in many vineyards by the use of undervine herbicides. However, since the last two decades of the 20th century, growers in both the Old and New Worlds wishing to avoid the use of agrochemicals have returned to undervine cultivation. This has been assisted by the development of hoes which are more efficient and have more sensitive and accurate ‘tripping’ mechanisms, thus reducing damage to the vines. Some producers, including those as notable as Ch latour and Leflaive of Puligny-Montrachet, have even gone back to using horses.