Success Stories Wine

Innovation pays off for master pruner

by Catherine Walbridge

Marco Simonit, who pioneered a vine pruning technique that has been embraced by the some of the world’s most famous wineries, has won a prestigious innovation award. More than 30 years ago, the viticultural agronomist discovered the secret behind the quality and health of grapevines, but it took many years of hard work and perseverance before the Italian's technique was adopted from Australia to Austria.

The roots of success

The roots of Simonit's success began as a young man, when he became fascinated by old vines, which he sketched in his spare time. Whilst doing this, he discovered that some were more vital than others and that there were large pruning wounds on many of the vines’ trunks. He suspected the vines’ quality and longevity must be shaped by the type of pruning used to bring them into shape at the beginning of a new year.

Eventually through trial and error, Simonit developed a pruning system – now known as "gentle pruning" – that inflicts less major injury on the vines while guaranteeing the build-up of the important, healthy and vital wood mass.

Innovation comes full circle

The Simonit&Sirch method has now been adopted by wineries around the world, including renowned châteaux in Bordeaux such as Angelus, Pichon-Longueville, Lynch-Bages and Yquem, Leflaive in Burgundy, Roederer in Champagne and the Symington Group in Portugal.

While he might have built a global pruning empire advising more than 150 winemaking companies, Simonit's roots are in Italy where he was born and where the company has a pruning academy in Friuli, on northeastern border with Slovenia and Austria.

So it was fitting his homeland is among those to recognise his achievements by presenting him with the Vinitaly International Innovation 2023 prize in Verona on 2 April at the Vinitaly wine fair. The award was presented by Italy’s Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida and Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano.

About Simonit&Sirch

Great wine starts with great pruning. And Simonit&Sirch is the firm that top wineries have on their speed-dial to ensure the health and longevity of their grapevines. Co-founder Marco Simonit discovered the technique now known as "gentle pruning" as a young viticultural agronomist 30 years ago. Now his business of master pruners has more than 150 winemaking clients around the world and its own pruning academy in Friuli, Italy.

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Catherine Walbridge
Catherine Walbridge
Head of International

Catherine Walbridge joined Wine+Partners in December 2022 as the agency looked to expand its international reach and English-language expertise. The London-born journalist and editor grew up in New Zealand and has worked in international media for more than 20 years. She is a former Reuters correspondent, South China Morning Post Deputy International Editor in Hong Kong and New Zealand radio program editor. Her interest in wine and food became part of her professional life when she moved to Vienna and worked at Falstaff magazine for a year.