How to Care for Grapes: Cluster Thinning

“It’s very important as a winemaker that you don’t over crop the vines,” BCV Vintner Dave Collins says as he clutches a cluster of Petit Verdot grapes. Cluster thinning is a winemaking process that improves intensity, sugars and, most importantly, flavor. The goal is to reduce the crop size to help increase the maturity of certain grapes. During the process, any damaged, underdeveloped or congested grapes are removed so they don’t over crop or crowd the larger, juicer fruits. 

When growing grapes for winemaking, the objective isn’t to have a vast amount of fruit — it’s to have a decent number of really good fruit. Clusters are usually thinned starting around veraison. Shoots are thinned to 1 or 2 clusters with the objective being to balance the amount of fruit per vine to the amount of vigor so the vine can properly ripen the fruit. This helps ensure the vine is balanced, keeps fruit from rubbing, and gives the remaining cluster the appropriate sun and air it needs to grow, ripen and color properly.

BCV is a couple of weeks away from harvest, so Dave and our vineyard workers are out among the vines, making sure only the best fruit make it from our vineyards to your bottle. Watch the video above as Dave discusses the thinning process and demonstrates how to properly thin the clusters. To learn more about the state of our grapes, click here.

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