Title: Assistant Vigneron
Height: 37 inches
Attention Span: 2.7 minutes
Skills: Leaf-pulling, cluster removal, shoot thinning - she doesn't always perform these tasks and prescribed times, but she's still learning.
Incidentally, leaf-pulling is an actual canopy management practice. When you hear the old saw that great wine is made in the vineyard, usually this implies extensive canopy management. You can see evidence of leaf-pulling in this photo in the dried leaves lying on the aisle in the background.
Leaves must be removed around the fruit clusters so that they receive more air circulation and sunlight, and so that the micro-climate of the canopy doesn't contain internal pockets that trap heat and moisture. You want to be able to see through your canopy. Dark, dense, shaded canopies are not good for quality wine grapes. But you have to be careful to remove the correct leaves. Too much direct sunlight can also be harmful, burning the fruit. We've already made one pass through the test vineyard pulling leaves on the north and east sides to allow early morning sun to dry off the dew on the fruit, but leaving more leaves around the fruit zone on the south and west sides to protect from harsh afternoon sunlight. This practice allows sprays to penetrate into the canopy and also helps to prevent damp conditions in the fruit zone where molds and rots like to do their work.