Winter is our pruning season
As the autumn months come to a close the vines transition from all their glorious amber colours to looking quite bleak as all the leaves fall to the ground. The next change for our vines comes with pruning season. From late June through to August is the time we give our vines a big haircut, setting them up ready to burst in Spring and start working on the next vintage of grapes.With tw o vineyards now comprising of almost 22 acres of vines it takes a little longer than it did a few years ago. The majority of our vines are spur pruned, but the Nebbiolo is always cane pruned. Our younger vines, those that we’ve just grafted in such as the Fiano, Montepulciano and Barbera are also cane pruned, as in these first few years of growth it is all about establishing good structure.
Why do we prune ?
Grapevines are perennials. They shoot away in Spring, grow and develop over the Summer, are harvested in the late Summer, then die back over autumn and winter, to begin the cycle again the following Spring. We prune the vines because if we didn’t we’d have naturally bushy trees, with a mess of leaves and branches. Pruning and training our vines, helps us keep them organised and focused on growing grapes.
As the saying goes, ‘Great wines are made in the vineyard‘.
You’ll mostly look out at our vines in winter if you visit and see that they’ve been spur pruned., but what does this mean? The before and after photos of our Muscat vine illustrate this or you. In simple terms we cut off all the current years fruiting canes back down to ‘two bud spurs’, keeping the original cordon and trunk structure in place. We count the number of spurs on each side of the vine, and this way we are able to control the amount of fruit each vine produces. Typically each, spur will grow two fruiting canes and each fruiting cane will produce up two bunches of grapes. Our many varieties produce different bunch weights. From there we do the math – number of vines x number of bunches x average bunch weight = estimate tonnage of fruit per grape variety.
On the other hand our Nebbiolo is a little different. These vines get a big haircut each year, and are cane pruned. The cordons get removed each year and we reduce it back to two of the best fruiting canes to lay down for the next vintage. The canes are cut to a specific length determined by how many buds we believe the vine can cope with. Generally we work on 8-10 buds per cane, which equates to approx 16 to 24 bunches of fruit per vine. But as we focus on quality over quantity, approx 30% of this fruit is dropped just prior to veraison.