Much talk and excitement take place regarding the vineyard during harvest time. Yet it is pruning in the dead of winter that is the most important vineyard work of the entire season. Pruning takes place during the dormant months of the vines; December, January, and February when the vines will not bleed excessively when the cane is cut off. Pruning vines is similar to pruning roses, cutting off the past year’s growth in order for the vine to grow new shoots to develop an appropriate canopy and fruit.
There is much more to pruning than just cutting off old growth. We are also “training” the vine in the shape of a “Y” that will provide balance, maximum energy flow, and strength to the vine. We do this by the selection of two of last year’s shoots to be the current year’s fruiting cane. These two shoots make up the top part of the “Y”; the stock is the bottom. The right shoots must be kept to provide the optimal energy flow through the vine and into the fruit.
The fruiting cane is that from which the new shoots grow that develop the fruit. Not only are we pruning for the current year’s crop, we are also pruning to leave spurs for the next year as well. In doing so, we are continuing to train the shape of the vine as it grows from year to year.