Here at Domaine de Manion (DDM), in our backyard vineyard, we finished our spur pruning in February, and knocked down most of the winter weeds. Spur pruning is cutting last year's grapevine canes down to two nodes or buds at each spur, off of the cordons. It is an individual management practice how many spurs you keep on each arm or cordon, but usually you have at least 5-6 spurs, a fist length apart on each cordon. Please note there are different types of pruning techniques used in vineyards throughout the world. We prefer the spur pruning method in our "syrah" vineyard.
In our Southern California climate, at the 33rd parallel, bud burst is usually around the beginning of March. Bud burst is the awakening of the grapevines in spring, marking the end of their winter dormancy. Bud burst usually occurs when mean daily temperatures are 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). Beautiful chartreuse shoots slowly emerge from the tiny buds on the spurs.
Ideally you want shoots from the cordons, growing upward and as vertical as possible, to reach the two sets of upper double wires, which will hold them in place. This is the very popular and common Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) System. This VSP trellis system helps with important air flow between the vines and rows, and proper sunlight exposure. There are many other types of trellis systems used in vineyards throughout the world, and in some cases a trellis system is not used at all. Often times, vineyard management is dictated by your geography location and grape varietal you grow.
At DDM we are just starting our "fourth leaf" or fourth season of the vineyard. Our grapevines and cordons are well established. As shoots emerge that are not in a desirable spot, such as on the trunk of a grapevine, shoots pointing down or sideways off of their cordon, are easily "nipped off" with your fingers.
The canopy is the leaf cover above the grapevine and ultimately the green vegetation above each grapevine that the trellis holds in place. Grapevines, shoots, and leaves through careful manipulation, can be managed for the best balance between shoot and fruit growth. Careful pruning, thinning, shoot positioning, and leaf removal are all parts of canopy management used throughout the year to optimize your grapes.
The warmer, longer days of spring urge the grapevine shoots to grow quickly. Soon the directed shoots are swaying in the soft breeze, and the vineyard has undeniably come alive again.