When pruning grapevines a general guideline is to prune 85 to 90% of last year’s growth off to control how many fruitful buds are left so the vine does not have too much fruit to ripen. We use the cane pruning technique which leaves full canes intact to tie the fruit wire. Each bud on last year’s canes will have fruit unless the cold temperature has damaged it. The past winter was mild compared to the previous three so the amount of fruitful buds should result in a good harvest. But of course, it is farming so you can never be totally sure until the fruit is on the scale on the press pad. In the picture to the right of a Cabernet Franc vine you can see the cane that was formed last season is laid on the wire and connected with a twist tie and young shoots are growing out of it. The process of pruning and tying is all done by hand and is a very intensive job. We have some rows that are close to 1000 feet long and containing 200 vines, making the start of the row a mental challenge before the physical work has even started.
Next blog topic will be canopy management.