On top of Monte Bello, our Director of Vineyard Operations Kyle Theriot and Monte Bello vineyard team tend to recently-grafted chardonnay vines. These young vines were previously grafted onto a mature vineyard of old merlot vine trunks via T-budding.
T-budding is a method of grafting onto rootstock (or a stem with a well-developed root system) in which a vertical cut is made to separate the bark from the cambium (the layer of cells between the inner bark and the wood), followed by a perpendicular cut at the top of the vertical cut to form a “T.” This grafting process, or a process in which a new grapevine is produced by adding scion wood (the wood from the parent vine that is used to graft with) to a cut in the rootstock, is a common propagation (breeding) method for vineyards world-wide.
According to Theriot, “When you T-Bud, you cut a ‘T’ into the Cambium layer of the truck, and you peel that back and you insert a couple of buds into it and tie it around with grafting tape.” The vine is then monitored for growth.
T-budding differs from “chip-budding,” another popular grafting method, where a specific size and shape of wood is cut from the original trunk and replaced with a matching cut of rootstock, which is then also bonded with grafting tape.
The type of grafting Ridge uses largely depends on the age and size of the trunks being grafted onto.
“[T-Budding] is the preferred method of grafting when you have a mature vineyard that you want to graft over. It’s harder to ‘chip bud’ graft when you have a wider circumference for the truck, which is why we T-Bud,” says Theriot.
T-budding also has a reputation for having a relatively high percentage of bud take, and the success rate is a key reason Kyle and his team continue to practice this grafting type.
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