Pruning the vines in Burgundy

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The vine is a climbing plant, in its wild state, it climbs any obstacle, repents without limit and produces small bunches of tiny grapes in quantity. Over the years, man has managed to control and cultivate this wild nature by developing different cultivation techniques, in particular the organization of the vines in rows to facilitate access and harvesting, and pruning and trellising techniques to lead the vines on trellises.

The aim of these cultivation techniques is always the same:

  • To fight against the natural development of the vine;
  • To limit the number of buds in order to adapt the vine to the possibilities of the environment, to have a suitable vigor and to ensure the durability of the vine;
  • And above all to produce healthy and ripe grapes.

Pruning and trellising methods vary according to the yield desired by the winegrower, the climate, the grape variety, the style of wine, regional traditions and the legal requirements of the appellations. Pruning is carried out once the vine is in “dormancy”, when it is resting (from December onwards) but be careful! The earlier the pruning is carried out, the earlier the buds will open up, with the risk of frost. It is a long job where 80% of the shoots will be eliminated. Pruning therefore consists of removing the useless wood from the previous year and preparing the future harvest by guiding the growth of the vine. This work, which may seem simple, in fact requires a lot of practice and an expert eye. It is necessary to observe and analyze each vine in order to adapt the effort that will be required of it by choosing the right shoots to keep, those that will carry the harvest.

There are different types of pruning:

  • In hot regions, Mediterranean regions, the Gobelet pruning is used. This is a short pruning of the vine which allows the vine to be placed close to the ground, sheltered from the wind, and the falling vegetation protects the grapes from the sun.
  • The cordon de Royat pruning is slightly similar to the goblet pruning because it can be pruned short but it can also be high. For this pruning, only 1 or 2 arms are kept, each with 3 or 4 spurs with 2 buds. This method of pruning allows a maximum number of buds to be kept while favoring quality production.
  • The Guyot pruning found in Burgundy is considered to be the most productive pruning. For this pruning, only the fruit-bearing buds (which are fertile) are kept on the vine, thus favoring the quality of the bunches rather than the quantity produced.
  • Lyre pruning. This high pruning takes its name from the two axes of the trellis which form a lyre, these two perpendicular arms carry the spurs. This type of pruning avoids shady areas and optimizes the sunlight and ventilation of the vine. This type of pruning can be found in the Jura and the Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune.


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