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From The Vine

Winter 2019

Getting the vineyard ready for the season: time to prune

Sauvignon Blanc, San Mateo Vineyard, Rutherford Estate

When we spoke with Pilo Villanueva, our Crew Foreman, for last month’s Beet, he shared that pruning season is his favorite time of year. Preparing the vines for the growing season is hard work but it is the year’s first critical step toward healthy fruit, and ultimately beautiful wines. It will take our entire vineyard crew a couple of months to complete the daunting task, but it’s well worth the effort.

Pruning is the practice of removing the previous season’s growth from the vines. By removing canes and opening the canopy, we create the right conditions for achieving each vine’s desired fruit quality and quantity. It is one of the most important vineyard operations of the year and sets the growth trajectory for this season.

Typically we begin in January and continue through early spring. The timing is crucial as it must occur when the vine is completely dormant to promote growth and prevent disease.

METHOD

Pruning methods vary based on the type of trellis - the structure for training and supporting the vine - and because we use various trellis types for different vineyards and varietals, our team has become expert in numerous styles of pruning.


open lyre trellis, before pruning

In our San Mateo Ranch Sauvignon Blanc vineyard at our Rutherford Estate the vines are cane pruned on an open lyre trellis.

With cane pruning, the optimal canes from the previous season’s growth are chosen to be the new fruiting canes, and we remove all other canes. Our crew looks for healthy canes that will promote ideal fruit orientation with open clusters, even light, and airflow. Our practice is to leave four canes per vine.

With over 150 planted acres of vines, pruning is no small chore. It is time and labor intensive for our crew, requiring technique and skill. After many weeks of work, we impatiently await bud break, hopefully after the last frost, and the start of a new growth cycle

Follow us on Instagram @lmrwine to stay up to date with what’s happening in the vineyard. 

Cane pruned vine

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