When it comes to vine care and pruning, the vineyard team starts when the snow is still flying, and the growth has slowed to a dormant state. Our acreage is vast, so we must begin early enough to allow time to reach every vine before spring. In early January, the team collects bud samples throughout the vineyard to examine under a microscope. They are looking for any damage that may have occurred throughout the year, and the actual count of how many buds are anticipated to grow for the upcoming season.
Smaller vineyards can start pruning as late as March, but at DDW we will often begin in January, soon after the bud samples are analyzed. With the samples, they can determine what to cut from the plant, ensuring a perfect balance of growth. Snowshoes on foot, and pruners in hand, the team follows behind the barrel pruner to ensure the utmost care for each plant. The barrel pruner offers a start to the process, taking off the long vines at a uniform height. This step is referred to as the “long prune”.
The team takes time to inspect each vine in order to achieve maximum fruit production. At this point, they perform the “short prune” step. From start to finish, the DDW pruning process takes at least three months to complete. The short prune is based on the amount of buds that are healthy and starting to grow on the vines after a seasonal harvest. In addition, the team takes this time to remove any diseased or damaged growth. If there is too much fruit, the health of the vine is at risk. If there is not enough growth, the yield from harvest is not enough. Finding that balance for the health and longevity of the vines is key to a successful pruning season.
For 2020, pruning has just finished at DDW, and we will begin to track bud break in our next post.