Minimal Pruning

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

minimal pruning, a viticultural technique developed by the csiro in Australia whereby the vines are essentially left without any form of pruning from one year to the next. The technique has particular application to higher-yielding, low-cost vineyards in warmer areas but was also used in some cooler regions producing high-quality wines, especially Australia’s coonawarra region where there is a shortage of labour.

The technique was developed and popularized in the late 1970s and 1980s but its scientific interest can be traced back to a difference of opinion between two eminent viticultural scientists in the late 1960s. When Professor Nelson shaulis of cornell university in New York state was visiting the csiro at Merbein in Victoria, Australia, he debated with Dr Peter May and Allan Antcliff whether an unpruned vine might die. To settle the question a sultana (Thompson Seedless) vine was left unpruned; to general surprise, it produced a large crop that ripened satisfactorily. At this time there was interest in mechanical pruning, and in many ways minimal pruning is a natural extension of that method. The technique has now been extensively evaluated for vine varieties for both wine production and drying grapes and in both hot and cooler climates.