The Rough Prune
January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
A few days ago when I arrived at work the vineyards were at 11 degrees, with a wind so powerful it was audibly loud from inside the winery. We figured this was an ideal day to start rough pruning, a practice used to get the bulk of last year’s shoot wood out of the vineyard, so that during the actual fine pruning we can focus more on the pruning decisions and less on what to do with all the wood.
The idea is to cut out about two-thirds of the shoot wood, and remove it from the vineyard. Often, we will leave what we call ‘options’ – shoots that may make better cordons than the cordons currently being used. A vine may have no good ‘options,’ or it may have three or four. Then, when we come through for the final pruning, a decision is made whether to continue with the same cordon or to utilize a new one. This seems to be especially important with the older vines, and in our chardonnay, where some of the old wood has the potential to be housing diseases over the winter. Best of all, with a large portion of the shoots already removed, it makes the final pruning much more peaceful – there’s no yanking shoots from the catch wires, trying to separate where the tendrils have clasped to each other or the wires.