March 12

Revolutionizing Vineyards: The Latest Innovation in Vineyard Pruning Practice


What does innovation in vineyard pruning look like today, and how does it shape the future of winegrowing? This article dives into the essentials: the promising Simonit and Sirch method, technology’s role in pruning efficiency, and case studies that underscore the tangible advantages these advancements bring to the vineyard. Read on to discover how modern techniques and tools are revolutionizing the art of viticulture.

Key Takeaways

  • The Simonit and Sirch pruning method is a revolutionary approach that respects the vine’s natural growth, enhances lymphatic flow, and reduces disease risks, aiming to improve vine health and productivity.
  • Combining tradition with innovation, new technologies like ROBOTRIM and Bluetooth-connected shears have revolutionized vineyard pruning, slashing labor costs and adapting to various grape varieties and conditions.
  • Sassaia has successfully adopted the Simonit and Sirch pruning method, which has led to healthier vines, extended lifespan, and better overall vineyard health, potentially increasing yield and profitability.

The Simonit and Sirch Pruning Method: A Game-Changer

Vineyard with pruned vines under the Simonit and Sirch Pruning Method

Devised by Italian viticultural experts Marco Simonit and Pierpaolo Sirch, the Simonit and Sirch pruning method revolutionizes traditional vine pruning practices. Its emphasis lies on enhancing the vines’ lymphatic flow, mitigating disease risk, and fine-tuning to microclimate factors.

The crux of this method involves aligning with the vine’s natural growth patterns. Small cuts are made on the same side of the vine to facilitate smooth sap and lymphatic fluid flow. This not only leads to better vine health and growth, but also helps fight off diseases by stopping them from spreading through the wood.

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method offers the following benefits:

  • It doesn’t follow a rigid approach, allowing for gentle pruning techniques
  • It shields vines from extreme heat and other risks linked to microclimate fluctuations
  • It reduces the occurrence of vine diseases
  • It ensures the pruning process is as effective as possible

Lymphatic Flow and Nutrient Efficiency

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method underscores the importance of the vine’s lymphatic system, instrumental in absorbing nutrients such as fats and fat-soluble vitamins. These nutrients are vital for healthy growth and fruit production. The pruning method enhances the flow of these nutrients within the vine by working with the vine’s natural branching and respecting the sap flow.

Hand pruning the grapevine into a two-bud spur is the pivotal step in this process. This meticulous, exacting task guarantees nutrient distribution to all parts of the plant. Over time, this can significantly improve the vine’s health, leading to better fruit production and ultimately, better wine.

Stress Management and Disease Prevention

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method prioritizes stress management. It achieves this by:

  • Allowing vines to branch out as they age
  • Occupying space with the trunk and branches
  • Enhancing lymphatic flow
  • Making only small cuts

This method assists vines in managing stress. When vines are stressed, their hormonal balance changes, their stomata close, they adjust osmotically, and their antioxidant defense ramps up.

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method eases this stress by:

  • promoting balanced growth
  • reducing the risk of diseases
  • making the vine less vulnerable to fungal trunk diseases
  • preventing common vineyard pests and diseases by always pruning on young wood, which keeps the vines healthy and lowers the chances of infestation.

Soil Health and Microclimate Consideration

Soil health is another integral element within the Simonit and Sirch pruning method. Healthy soil contributes to:

  • even growth and robustness of the vines
  • their ability to withstand dry spells
  • fending off pests and diseases
  • ultimately producing better-tasting wine.

The method also takes into account the microclimate of the vineyard. Microclimate variations can affect the stress levels of the plant, especially in areas with drought conditions. By adjusting the pruning approach according to these conditions, the Simonit and Sirch method helps to maintain the overall health and productivity of the vineyard.

The Role of Technology in Modern Vineyard Pruning

Comparison of machine pruners and hand pruning methods in vineyards

Modern vineyard pruning heavily relies on technology. It amalgamates tradition and innovation, blending the meticulous care of hand pruning with the efficiency and uniformity offered by machine pruners. But it’s not just about swapping out old tools for new ones. It’s about using technology to enhance the pruning process, making it more precise and more effective.

Although not used by us, ROBOTRIM is one such cutting-edge technology. It uses a vision system to spot where to cut and a robotic arm with scissors to make accurate cuts on the vine branches. Operating on its own, it can glide along the vine and can be put on both sides for super-efficient pruning. It is more functional on flat terrain. We operate in 10 – 15 degrees of slope making manual a better option for now.

Advancements in pruning technologies also make a difference in vineyard pruning research and development. They’ve led to a 90% cut in labor costs and a boost in grape yields, making them perfect for medium-to-large sized vines. They also play a crucial role in adapting pruning methods to different types of grape varieties and growing conditions.

Machine Pruners vs. Hand Pruning

The debate between machine pruners and hand pruning often comes down to a trade-off between efficiency and precision. A machine pruner, like the Felco electro-portable scissors, is quick and uniform. They’re great for managing large vineyards where timeliness and cost-effectiveness are crucial.

On the other hand, hand pruning offers a level of care and precision that machines can’t match. It allows for careful handling of the plants and precise work, leading to a top-notch visual appearance of the buds. This balance between efficiency and care is at the heart of the Simonit and Sirch pruning method. We still employ manual pruning.

Cutting-Edge Research and Development

The world of vineyard pruning is constantly evolving, thanks to cutting-edge research and development. Bluetooth-connected pruning shears, automation for better wine quality, and data-based vineyard management decisions are just some of the innovations shaping the industry.

Research has significantly enhanced the Simonit and Sirch pruning method by focusing on supporting the natural growth of vines and dealing with diseases linked to common pruning techniques. Innovative techniques like lighter pruning and mechanical methods have been proven to make the vines healthier, increase yield and quality, and ultimately make pruning more efficient and productive.

Adapting to Different Vine Varieties and Growing Conditions

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method is versatile and can be adjusted to suit any grapevine variety and training system, as well as various growing conditions. This adaptability is crucial, as different vine varieties and growing environments require different pruning approaches.

Understanding the unique characteristics of each vine variety is essential. There are different types of climbers, including:

  • Twining plants
  • Leaf climbers
  • Root climbers
  • Climbers that use tendrils
  • Climbers that use aerial rootlets
  • Climbers that use hooks

The Simonit and Sirch method respects these characteristics, ensuring the pruning approach is tailored to each vine’s needs.

Enhancing Productivity and Cost-Effectiveness in Vineyard Operations

Grapes being harvested in a vineyard with improved productivity from innovative pruning technologies

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method offers several benefits for vineyard operations:

  • Augments vine health and grape quality
  • Boosts productivity and cost-effectiveness
  • Simplifies the pruning process
  • Reduces pruning time and labor costs

Investing in innovative pruning technologies can offer a significant return on investment for vineyards. These technologies streamline vineyard trellis maintenance, reduce labor costs, and may even qualify for grants from programs like the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Program.

In the long run, the Simonit and Sirch pruning method can bring:

  • Consistent high-quality fruit
  • Improved vine structure
  • Better balance in the fruit
  • Healthier and more resilient vines

This leads to higher quality grapes, increased yields, and better profitability for vineyards.

Time Savings and Labor Reduction

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method contributed significantly to time savings and labor reduction in vineyards. By simplifying the process and employing techniques that lessen the impact on vine plants, vineyards can anticipate a 25% to 30% reduction in pruning time over a few years.

This reduction in pruning time helps manage the vineyard schedule more efficiently, freeing up time for other crucial tasks. The method also impacts labor costs, with its focus on efficiency and vine health reducing the time and resources spent on managing diseases.

Investment in Pruning Technologies

Investing in pruning technologies can offer significant benefits for vineyards. Mechanical pruning tools, for example, can save growers $40 to $200 per acre. Tractor-mounted pruning machines like Klima streamline vineyard trellis maintenance and further reduce labor costs.

Modern technology, like mechanical pruning equipment, has had a significant impact on the costs of vineyard pruning. By cutting labor costs and boosting grape yields, these technologies have helped to make vineyard operations more efficient and profitable.

Long-Term Benefits for Grape Quality and Yield

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method offers significant long-term advantages for grape quality and yield. By fostering balanced sap flow, minimizing scar tissue, and reinforcing vine structure and health, it progressively improves grape yield.

Research studies have shown that advanced pruning techniques, like the Simonit and Sirch method, can lead to increased yield, better grape and wine quality, and reduced vineyard management costs. These benefits make the investment in innovative pruning techniques well worth it for vineyards looking to improve their profitability in the long run.

Sassaia’s Collaboration with Vigna Veritas

Sassaia's collaboration with Vigna Veritas in implementing the Simonit and Sirch Pruning Method

The partnership between Sassaia and Vigna Veritas perfectly illustrates the transformative effect of the Simonit and Sirch pruning method on vineyard operations. Initiated in 2023, the collaboration aims to elevate Sassaia’s award-winning Timorasso, a native white grape from Piedmont, using this pioneering pruning method.

The incorporation of the Simonit and Sirch method at Sassaia was steered by four fundamental principles:

  1. Enabling the plant to branch with age
  2. Advocating space occupation by the trunk and branches
  3. Guaranteeing the continuity of the lymphatic flow
  4. Executing small cuts on young wood

This approach was tailored to suit each plant’s requirements, leading to better vine longevity and productivity.

However, the implementation process is not without challenges. Sassaia had to work with deal with the potential harm that modern pruning techniques could cause to the long-term health of vines. They overcame these challenges by emphasizing the method’s benefits, like protecting vines from trunk diseases and observing successful growth patterns of old bush-trained vines to extend vine lifespan.

The Implementation Process

The collaboration between Sassaia, Agronomist Davide Ferrarese, and the Vigna Veritas team was crucial for successfully implementing the Simonit and Sirch pruning method. The goal was to safeguard the pruned vines from trunk diseases and extend their lifespan, enhancing the health and productivity of the vineyard.

The implementation process involved a careful balance between the new pruning method and Sassaia’s existing vineyard practices. The Simonit and Sirch method was customized for Sassaia, adjusting the training course to match the specific needs and situations of the vineyard.

Challenges and Successes

The implementation of the Simonit and Sirch pruning method at Sassaia is not without challenges. The biggest challenge is ongoing training of vineyard staff. However, by focusing on education and skill development of our team, we are reaping the benefits by protecting vines from trunk diseases and facilitating successful growth patterns of old guyot trained vines.

The results speak for themselves. After implementing the Simonit and Sirch method, Sassaia saw healthier, longer-living vines, better protection from trunk diseases, and improved overall vineyard health. These successes are a testament to the effectiveness of the Simonit and Sirch pruning method and the potential it holds for vineyards worldwide.

Future Plans and Developments

Sassaia envisions a promising future. Their ambition is to advance the Simonit and Sirch pruning method by focusing on precise cuts on 2 or 3-year-old wood and tailoring the approach to cater to each plant’s unique requirements. This focus on continued improvement promises to bring even greater benefits in terms of vine longevity and productivity.

Research is also a key part of Sassaia’s future plans. They’re exploring:

  • How grape yeasts survive on berries left on the vine after harvesting
  • Studying fermentative yeasts in sterile-must fermentations to see how vine pruning practices affect yeast behavior
  • Exploring new technologies, like science and technology-equipped solar powered temperature-controlled environments, to further enhance their vineyard operations.


In conclusion, the Simonit and Sirch pruning method is a game-changer for vineyard operations. By enhancing the vines’ lymphatic flow, reducing disease risk, and considering microclimate factors, it ensures healthier, longer-living vines and better-quality grapes. And with vineyards like Sassaia leading the way, the future of vineyard operations looks brighter than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the methods of pruning vineyards?

When pruning vineyards, you can use the spur pruning method for the first three seasons, selecting the best shoot and cutting others to the base during the first dormant season, and then pruning the remaining shoot to three or four strong buds. In the second growing season, you’ll need to select the most vigorous shoot and pinch off others at the trunk. Additionally, you can opt for cane pruning, which involves retaining one-year-old wood with shorter spurs containing fewer buds.

Why are grapevines pruned?

Grapevines are pruned to regulate the number and positions of shoots, as well as cluster number and size, ensuring maximum yields of high-quality grapes and adequate vegetative growth for the following season. Left unpruned, the vine would have excessive grape clusters, hindering ripening and sustainable vegetative growth.

What is the grape pruning robot?

The grape pruning robot is an autonomous pruner that can spur prune bilateral cordon grapevines with the same quality as hand labor. It uses a holistic approach and applies pruning rules as desired, ensuring efficient operation and quality work.It does not yet employ the Simonit and Sirch pruning method.

What technology is used in grape farming?

Grape farming uses technology such as intelligent machines, sensors, and automated drones equipped with thermal infrared cameras to assess soil conditions, water needs, hydration, disease, and pest damage. Data can be used to program modern tractors to spray only in zones that need treatment. This aids in reducing the net carbon footprint by adding longevity to the vineyard and reducing the need to rip and replant. 

What is the Simonit and Sirch pruning method?

The Simonit and Sirch pruning method is a revolutionary approach that enhances vineyard health and considers microclimate factors, ultimately leading to improved water and nutrient flow leading to better grape quality.

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