Bud and graft union protection using filled bucket

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:


owner, winemaker
Jun 13, 2017
Reaction score
For the last 7 years I've been growing about 50 cab franc and petite verdot vines in my experimental vineyard in central Indiana. They are own-rooted and phylloxera is finally getting to them. This time has allowed me to try various techniques to keep the trunks and fruiting buds alive over winter. It normally reaches 0'F here and can dip to -5'F every couple years. (Won't talk about the -22'F we got in 2014 during the polar vortex)

I'm looking to replace these vines with some grafted pinot noir. I figure with the graft union about 2 inches above the soil it should be easy to mound over in the fall to protect it.

The bigger question is on protecting the buds. I've been protecting my current vinifera with a late fall prune and then covering with a tarp for the worst part of winter. This has successfully allowed the vines to fruit. They are trained low to the ground (~1ft high), similar for what you'd see in the Rhone valley.

So I'm thinking for the grafted pinot I could kill 2 birds with one stone by keeping the trunks short and using something like a 5-gallon bucket with the bottom cut off and filled with dirt as the mound over. This should be tall enough to protect both the buds. The head of the vine would be left with a couple short fruiting canes. This is similar to how the vines are pruned in Prague.

Anyone see problems with this I'm not considering? Or does anyone have other suggestions for over-wintering vinifera in an unfriendly climate?


Senior Member
Jan 18, 2010
Reaction score
You can dig a trench next to the vine and tip the whole vine over sideways and bury it in the trench. The key here is to not damage the trunk during burial or when you did it up. Bending too sharply may crack the trunk or dinging it with the shovel can do damage as well. If you damage the trunk at all you open yourself up to crown gall which will kill it faster than phylloxera. Around these parts some growers are starting to think that having to replace a vineyard every 7 years due to phylloxera is actually less costly than replacing a plant every 3 years from crown gall. The quality of grafted vines from California nurseries is absolutely terrible.


Senior Member
Sep 12, 2011
Reaction score
Wow! I had no idea phylloxera was a threat as far north as Indiana, especially central Indiana. One more reason I appreciate my muscadines.

Latest posts