The vines are still dormant, but things are happening now out there in the vineyards: winter pruning. Last year’s canes are being cut off, with only a few left to grow new ones the coming season. Depending on several factors (i.e. which region, vine, quality of wine, etc.), pruning is done in different ways. In hot regions of i.e. Spain, where it is very common to find bush vines that are growing low and thus close to the soil, several short canes (=spurs) will be left around the head of the vine.
In the Pfalz, where the climate is cooler, it is typical to have vertical shoot positioning (the vines are about hip-high and then spread along strings). One or two canes with a certain number of buds are left, all the others are cut off. The buds on those few remaining canes will grow into this year’s grape clusters. The length of the remaining cane is determined by the number of desired buds, which in its turn is dependent on which vine, desired wine style, etc. The school books refer to max 15 buds per cane. This work is done by hand, although the pruning shears can be electrical and thus making it somewhat easier. However! Standing out there in wind and weather shows there is a not-so-romantic side of wine making…
Pruning is a very important step in the process of winemaking and lays the foundation for what there is to come. It is here where the vinter decides about the yields he or she wants to get from a certain vine. As a simple rule, lower yields give better wines. Further, the older the vine, the lower the yields get. Lower yields result in less wine, results in higher prices per bottle. During the growing cycle of the vine and grapes, there are further stages of pruning required. We’ll get to those later on.
Next step in the process will now be the training of the vines. I’ll be back with new photos!
Are you interested to work in the vineyards? Get in touch!