Comparison of Five Methods of Crop Thinning in Pinot Noir and their Effects on Fruit Composition and Wine Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2018: $14,871.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Beneduce Vineyards
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Michael Beneduce
Beneduce Vineyards


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety, crop thinning / yield management
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer

    Proposal summary:

    Crop thinning in wine grapes is a labor-intensive vineyard management practice that involves cutting off a portion of a vine’s crop load. This practice has proven effective in other wine grape growing regions on different varieties. There are a number of ways in which to achieve this, including methodology, timing, and degrees of crop thinning. Unfortunately, there exists little comparative information on the impacts of crop thinning methods on vineyards in the Northeast and nearly no information on crop thinning of the Pinot Noir grape variety, which is a high value variety commonly grown in the region. This project investigates the efficacy of five different methods of Pinot Noir wine grape cluster thinning at Beneduce Vineyards in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

    In addition, the labor and resulting crop load will be assessed in relation to the final grape and wine quality to determine the economic feasibility of each method of cluster thinning. The results of this project will be widely disseminated throughout the vineyard grower community in New Jersey and the Northeastern United States through factsheets, several on-farm twilight meetings, North Jersey fruit grower meetings, and the Eastern Winery Exposition.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The project intends to compare five methods of grape cluster thinning and their results as they relate to fruit composition, finished wine quality, and economic sustainability. This is information is directly applicable to all commercial vineyards seeking to grow economically sustainable, high quality Pinot Noir throughout the northeastern United States.

    This will be accomplished through three main objectives: Measuring crop load balance for each thinning technique.

    Measuring the quality of the grapes resulting from each thinning technique using standard industry metrics.

    Measuring the quality of the wine resulting from each thinning technique using standard industry metrics.

    Performing a cost benefit analysis for each thinning technique, where industry information will be used to assign values to grape and wine quality and compare the results to labor and associated costs for each method.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.