Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Vineyard Gets Its Hairs Cut

It's pruning season all over the valley. The vineyards, which have been slumbering in dormancy since late November/early December, are now completely dormant and ready to be pruned. Today, the vineyard crew systematically works their way from one end of the vines to the other at a steady pace, talking coolly, quietly, and rhythmically among themselves to pass the time. These were some of my most favorite moments when I worked on the tiny vineyard in France- finding myself in a whole new type of conversation, one with a different tempo, rhythm and beat. It's conversation for the sake of conversation, rather than for conveying a point or winning an argument. Conversation whose primary purpose is to entertain/amuse/pass the time. Spending the entire day working with your hands and your eyes (your senses) and requiring less production/output with your intellectual mind allows a different way of relating to your coworkers. You're not passing in the hallway making quick jokes as you cross going different directions to different ends. You're spending the whole day in the uninterrupted company of your coworkers, outside, conversing casually and genuinely with no pressure to say anything particular at any given time.

We prune to limit the number of grape clusters the vine will produce, ultimately to limit that vintage's yield or to balance the vine. At Peju, we prune to have only two grape clusters at hand-distance intervals on the vines, varying slightly by age and size of the vine. This ensures that the vines concentrate their energy to produce two high quality fruit clusters rather than many lower quality (less concentrated, 'flabby') fruit clusters.

Winemakers have to be vigilant about when they choose to prune, as pruning often nudges the grapevine to awaken from dormancy and inspires bud-break not long after. The key here is not to get bud-break before the morning frosts of Spring have ceased.

Rains can continue until the cows come home, but morning frosts are not our friend. Luckily our Rutherford location usually spares us much worry. The threat of damaging frosts is low in our prime Rutherford real estate.

Before (left) and After (right)
One Tangled Rod at a Time

No comments:

Post a Comment