Definition - What does Topworking mean?

Top working in the vineyard is a method to change the variety of grapes which are grown by grafting. This is usually done to meet current market demands and is usually only a short-term solution.

While it is a cheaper solution to planting new vines, the grafts are not always successful in large numbers.

WineFrog explains Topworking

Top working is also a practice used to graft on new varietals to a root stock as other grafts are failing or they are not producing to certain desired standards.

Top working should only be performed after the benefits and risks have been assessed.

The benefits:

  • Ability to adapt to market demand and up to full production by the second year
  • Low impact on cash flow
  • Less time needed to obtain needed planting material
  • Lower cost than new plantings

The challenges:

  • Variability in the age of vines
  • Reduced yield or decline in health of vines on long-term
  • Rapid growth of new graft, thus putting pressure on graft union making it vulnerable to breakage
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