T-budding begins!

May 1, 2012




Last weekend we finally began the process of T-budding! As you may be aware, we have been planning to switch over some of our Cabernet Sauvignon vines to Grenache to use in our Cuvee Alis program for the last several months. The process of converting vines from one variety to another is somewhat involved; it requires special pruning during the winter, followed by topping and stripping the bark from the vines in the days leading up to T-budding.

The final step in the process is the T-budding itself. To T-bud, two notches are cut on either side of the trunk of the Cabernet Sauvignon vine. A little piece of Grenache budwood (dormant buds held in cold storage from last year) is inserted into each notch very carefully, so that the vascular tissue from the bud lines up with the vascular tissue of the vine. The whole thing is wrapped in tape, so that it looks like this;

The tape is there to hold the buds in place so that there is time for the graft to form between the buds and the trunk. It also keeps foreign material out of the graft, so that it doesn't become infected.

Once the budwood has finished growing into the trunk, the buds will push and new shoots of Grenache will emerge. Any other shoots that may pop out of dormant buds from other spots on the trunk will still be Cabernet Sauvignon, and so they will be pulled off, leaving only the Grenache to grow. After a few seasons, the entire top of the plant will be only Grenache tissue that will produce Grenache grapes!

This block will look a little bit bare until the new buds push. The three rows in the foreground of this picture have been budded over to the Bien Nacido clone of Grenache, which is the same one that we already have growing up in the Bobcat Run block. The rest of this block has been budded over to Tablas Creek clone D. Since rain during flowering can greatly reduce yield in Grenache, we decided to use two clones that would flower a few days apart, sort of hedging our bets against losing the entire crop to a late spring rain.

The Grenache is finished, but we are still planning to bud over another half acre of Mourvedre tomorrow. Be sure to check back for more detail on how T-budding is done!

To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main website, please click here.


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