Vineyards were planted in the arid region of northwest China to meet the local economic strategy while reducing agricultural water use. Sap flow, environmental variables, a plant characteristic (sapwood-to-leaf area ratio, As/Al) and a canopy characteristic (leaf area index, L) were measured in a vineyard in the region during the growing season of 2009, and hourly canopy stomatal conductance (Gsi) was estimated for individual vines to quantify the relationships between Gsi and these variables. After accounting for the effects of vapor pressure deficit (D) and solar radiation (Rs) on Gsi, much of the remaining variation of reference Gsi (GsiR) was driven by that of leaf-specific hydraulic conductivity, which in turn was driven by that of As/Al. After accounting for that effect on GsiR, appreciable temporal variation remained in the decline rate of GsiR with decreasing vineyard-averaged relative extractable soil water (θE). This variation was related to the differential decline ofθE near each monitored vine, decreasing faster between irrigation events near vines where L was greater, thus adding to the spatiotemporal variation of GsiR observed in the vineyard. We also found that the vines showed isohydric-like behavior whenθE was low, but switched to anisohydric-like behavior with increasingθE. ModeledθE and associated Gs of a canopy with even L (1.9 m2 m−2) were greater than that of the same average L but split between the lowest and highest L observed along sections of rows in the vineyard (1.2 and 2.6 m2 m−2) by 6 and 12%, respectively. Our results suggest that managing sectional L near the average, rather than allowing a wide variation, can reduce soil water depletion, maintaining Gs higher, thus potentially enhancing yield.