We have about 12 acres of vines, and each one needs significant pruning every winter. Every shoot that grew last year must be cut back to the first bud. Our vineyard manager Roxanne Smith does the majority of this work by herself. She’s obviously our rock star.
In addition to all of this regular pruning (called “spur pruning,” because a little spur is left of each shoot), Roxanne take every opportunity to rejuvenate the vines. If a thick branch on the wire (a “cordon”) has dead nodes or wide node spacing, she’ll look for a good shoot to replace it. See the photo below for a prime example. You can see the cut of the old cordon, and the young replacement shoot bending up to the wire.
Read more about vine balance >>
If you’ve been driving by on Route 7, you’ve seen that our Marquette vines in that small block have undergone quite a change. Roxanne has renovated them completely over the past few seasons. Originally, they were trained with thigh-height cordons, a system called vertical shoot positioning. But our vines grow so vigorously that the shoots growing upward were difficult to control. Roxanne decided to convert them to the system we use in the rest of our farm, “top-wire cordon,” with high cordons and shoots growing down.
A couple years ago, she chopped off the original cordons and selected one or two shoots to continue to the top wire. Now, those shoots have produced more growth that is filling out the trellis. In these photos, you can see the thick, original trunk with 2-year-old extensions and then brand-new cordons. See below.
A few more photos from the dormant vineyard. (Click the thumbnails to view larger.)