The vines get a new look: winemakers are the make-up artists of the vine

Mar 21, 2022 | Wines and winemaking

Today I would like to talk about the forms of training and pruning –  cutting the branches in order to regulate the plant, improve its productivity. The vine is a liana that develops progressively, so it is necessary to prune it to give it a shape.

The guyot technique

The most common type of training is the guyot, invented by the French winemaker Jules Guyot in the second half of the 1800s. It is an excellent system for vineyards that produce wine grapes.

It is a low-expansion form of breeding, supported by the poles that are 1.80m high and three wires. The height of the trunk varies from 30 to 100 cm, on which we find a “capo a frutto” with 6-12 buds folded horizontally and a spur (1-2 buds). The fruity shoots are then attached to support wires above the branch.


This system offers excellent exposure of the leaves and good production quality.




The toppia technique

Another cultivation system is the pergola: the vineyard comprises vertical poles that support a horizontal or oblique structure on which the wires that hold up the fruiting branches are fixed. The Ossola variant is called “toppia” or “topia”: the vineyard is supported by stone columns, due to the numerous caves, with chestnut wood above for the branches. This system is suitable for well-exposed and ventilated vineyards because it protects the grapes from rain, sun, and wind. 


In Ossola, this method was probably adopted because of the steep terrain, so the toppia was the best solution to make the shoots run along the sunny slopes. The bunches are well ventilated, so the risk of contracting some diseases is reduced. Manual harvesting is facilitated and there is a good quality-quantity ratio.

However, the winemakers have encountered some disadvantages: the local quarries no longer produce the support poles and even the wooden beams must be made-to-measure according to the vineyard.


Pruning is a critical action for the health and productivity of the vine. This process is mandatory to maintain a balance between the plant’s vegetation, its fruits, and the grapes’ high quality.


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Laurea specialistica Università Bordeaux Montaigne – Pessac, Francia

Lingue, affari e interculturalità: economia del vino, enoturismo e interculturalità

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