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Kelsey Shoemaker
 
March 1, 2022 | Kelsey Shoemaker

What is Pruning?

What is Pruning?

 

Not a lot goes on at a vineyard during the winter months as the vines aren't growing. This is because the vines enter their dormant season during the cold months. Grapevines go dormant (go to sleep for the winter) following harvest. The timing of dormancy varies depending on location. Our estate vines here on the winery property and most grapevines in North Central Texas are harvested from late July to mid-September depending on the variety. They usually enter dormancy between November 15 and December 15. One knows that dormancy is achieved when all of the leaves have fallen from the vines and the shoots are no longer green but brown. Once the leaves have fallen and the shoots are brown, the nutrients and water have migrated down the trunk into the roots beneath the surface of the ground. This offers protection from freezing until spring. 

What happens during these months is just as important as winemaking in the summer months. Before the vines can grow into a beautiful canopy and be part of making delicious wine, the first step is pruning. 

Pruning: This is critical and in North Central Texas, the timing is very important because pruning too early can stimulate bud break and as stated above, we want to avoid early bud break because of late spring freezes. Once the vines are dormant, we prefer to wait until late February - early March to prune. 

Bud Break- Bud break occurs when warming temperatures and lengthening days signal to the vines that a new season has begun. After sleeping all winter, the vine comes back to life and begins the growing process!

During pruning we will cut off 70 to 90 percent of the previous year’s growth, basically taking the vine back to just a trunk and 2 cordons. Pruning helps the upcoming growing season, preventing overcrowded vines, and ensuring that the grapes will have plenty of room for air to circulate, which helps prevent mildew and rot, according to Wine Spector.

Bud break normally takes place here between early to mid-March. There will be small green leaves budding out on pruned spears that begin to develop into shoots. Dormancy is over. These buds will develop into long shoots (3-5 feet or more). These vines then experience a bloom in mid to late April. Bloom is when the small clusters shed their flowers and then develop into clusters of small grapes. 

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