Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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vigour in a viticultural sense is the amount of vegetative growth, an important aspect of any vine. This may seem of unlikely interest to wine drinkers but it is a vital factor in wine quality. Very low-vigour vines do not always have sufficient leaf area to ripen grapes properly, while high-vigour vines typically produce thin, pale, acidic wines often wrongly thought to result from overcropping. Vigour changes through a vine’s lifetime, as discussed in vine age.

Vines of high vigour show a lack of balance between shoot and fruit growth. Vigorous vineyards show rapid shoot growth in the spring, and shoots continue to grow late into the growing season, even past veraison, the beginning of fruit ripening. Shoots on vigorous vines have long internodes, thick stems, large leaves, and many, usually long, lateral shoots. Vigorous vineyards are generally, but not necessarily, associated with high yields. Rank vegetative growth may produce so much shade that fruitfulness declines, leading to even more vegetative growth and a loss of varietal character, colour, body, and general wine quality.