After a busy first summer and fall, winter in the vineyard has been rather peaceful. These months have given us some much needed time to rest and recharge for year two ahead.
The first task of the year is to prune our vines back in preparation for their ‘spring awakening’. With pruning, however, timing is everything. Pruning grapevines encourages them to bud, but because opening buds and young shoots are sensitive to freezing temperatures, you must be sure that there is little risk of frost in the days ahead. As we have had a relatively mild winter this year, we decided to prune our vines during the first weekend in March.
Because this is the beginning of year two in our vineyard, how we would prune our vines was another question. There is much debate surrounding whether you should prune second year vines all the way back to two buds, which would encourage root development and a stronger, more stable vine, or prune the vine only to the first wire, which would allow the vine to develop faster and produce an earlier harvest. Considering these two options, we decided to do both! For those vines that seemed to be already well established and thicker in width than a pencil, we pruned back to the first wire.
For those vines that were smaller, thinner, and more delicate, we cut back almost to the ground again, to only two buds.
Although we know pruning is required for the vines, it was certainly nerve wracking cutting them down – especially after an entire first year of hoping they will grow! So, when pruning we were very cautious, using sharp pruners and cutting on an angle to prevent any moisture from accumulating. Together, the four of us were able to finish pruning the entire vineyard in two days… and now, we patiently wait for our vines to awake from their winter slumber.