Winter is pruning time, and no matter how long we think it will last when viewed from November, the season always passes too quickly. There are lots of competing demands, and sometimes, like this year, it is cut short by warm weather. But like all cultural practices in the vineyard, we don’t cut corners.
Pruning is a critical task that helps regulate vigor and yield for the coming season. At Dodon, we typically remove as much old wood as possible, using a technique known as cane pruning to reduce levels of fungal inoculum. Assuming the vines were balanced during the previous season, this method assures optimal shoot spacing and the number of fruitful buds per vines. Beyond these basic principles, that are lots of decisions to be made. For example, we always wonder whether to leave an “insurance cane” that would provide extra buds in the event of extraordinary cold that can kills buds during the height of winter.
But now winter is merging into spring, and the vineyard team is rushing to finish pruning and tying the vines. The warm weather has made the work pleasant enough, but to be honest, we would prefer biting cold and snow until late March. By keeping the soil cold, these conditions help maintain dormancy and delay bud break until later in the season when there is less risk of damage from a late season frost. We’ve also noticed that cold soil helps synchronize bloom across varieties, a significant work saver in early June when things are busy in the vineyard. By killing eggs and larva, very cold weather also reduces insect pest pressure throughout the season. All told, we’re glad to see a week or two of colder weather in the forecast.