How to prune a vine in 3 easy steps.
This is probably one of the most asked questions during autumn and winter.
Winter is when the vines are dormant, that’s when the vines rest and rejuvenate before their growing cycle starts again in Spring with budburst.
This dormant time, winter is the best time to prune, while the vines are bare. In the Swan Valley the earliest we can start is once about 90% of the vineyard leaves have dropped.
Pruning is all about creating a balanced vine and so, a balanced vineyard. This is critical to making great wine, as ultimately wine is fermented grape juice, so we want each vine to be perfectly balanced.
However all you want to know is how to prune the vine at your house!
And it is easy.
If your vine is fairly established (about 4 feet high) it will be almost impossible to kill it!
Pruning will be about creating the shape or guiding it to where you want it to grow.
Seriously get rid of everything else. Each bud or nobbly bit on that vine branch is going to turn into a branch of its own!
The roots are all still there, so the bigger the root system the more growth they force out through whatever new wood you’ve laid down.
But in the vineyard, it’s a bit more complicated…
Derek will look at each vine, choosing the strongest shoots (or branches) to keep, cutting off weak ones and creating an even, symmetrical shape.
A well pruned vine will produce the best sized fruit, which will ripen evenly, as there will be the right number of bunches of grapes for that specific vine.
There are two ways to prune grapevines:
How to Cane Prune
The advantages are increased yield, the canopy is more open so the air can better circulate around the fruit and better (more) fruit set.
The major disadvantage is that it’s a lot harder, so takes a lot longer, needs more skilled people and is a lot more expensive to do.
How to Spur Prune:
You need to have trained the vine into a T shape, with a strong truck, and two cordons, each running on ether side of the main trunk.
Spur Pruning is a lot quicker and easier than Cane Pruning, and we can get a mechanical ‘pre-pruner’ in, that cuts a lot of the excess wood into pencil lengths, so they fall away from the canopy and don’t need to be pulled out by hand!
However it does seem to reduce the vine’s yield over time and can lead to smaller berries (depending on the variety this can be a positive too).
At Upper Reach we do a mix of spur and cane pruning, to ensure that we grow the very best grapes for your wines.