When you look out across the vineyard in February, you’re treated to a first rush of optimism that says spring is approaching. The hills are that vibrant green of late winter, cover crops are blooming, there’s even a daffodil poking up here and there. Against this backdrop of bright green are the perfect rows of dormant, naked vines. And in those aisles our vineyard crew works methodically and skillfully pruning each one.
Pruning is the most important task this time of year. In fact, some will tell you that it is the most important task of all, so when you think that just because the vines are dormant, the rest of us might be too...not so!
Pruning is a strategy specific to every winery. Choices are made about when to prune - which determines other super important issues such as when bud break will occur and when fruit will ripen. Keeping in mind that you want to avoid a late-spring or early-fall frost, the chosen timing is key.
Decisions about how much to prune determine the yield of a vineyard. They establish the number of buds needed to achieve a balance between how many the plant must support and how many are needed to produce the right amount of perfectly flavored fruit. The task also involves judging each vine individually to allow for the right amount of sunlight for even ripening, which is critical for flavor development.
And, of course, the rest of the winery operation is always in full swing tending to vintages already under way. One big, joyous task right now is the bottling of our 2017 clone Pinot Noirs, destined for a future wine club release!
Even though it may seem that winter is the off-season, it’s a dramatic landscape with the valley hinting at spring, and there’s exciting work being done. We hope you’ll visit us at the winery soon.
Jill DelaRiva Russell