My husband, John, and I like to have our backyard syrah vineyard here in Southern California pruned by early February or Super Bowl time frame. It is a necessary and important annual task for the vineyard. At this point in the year, the vines are dormant and barren with no leaves to be seen. The vineyard has its own structural beauty showing the trunks and cordons of each vine.
The pruning task at hand is trimming last years shoots, that have matured into canes back down to the fruiting zone of the vines cordons or arms. If you look carefully you can see and count the buds along last year's canes, close to the cordons. There is usually one bud underneath, and more buds follow on the top side. Count one, two buds on top side of mature cane, close to your cordon. Trim at a 45 degree angle an inch away from the second bud. Mature canes trimmed to the two top-sided buds become your new fruit spurs on your cordons. It is ideal to have fruit spurs straight and perpendicular to your cordon arm, and towards the front or the cordon for better sun exposure.
Pruning is a technique that kicks off the entire grape growing season once again, for the year ahead. It is also time to review each vine. It takes some time, because each vine needs to be assessed. Do you have your 4-5 fruit spurs on each cordon. Are your fruit spurs about a "closed fist" length apart. Are there any dead wood parts of the cordon which should be trimmed off. Do you need to pull a mature cane over and create a new cordon, replacing a cordon that is not doing well. Are your fruit spurs out of the central "v" area of your vine. I call it "purposeful pruning".
Your time invested now in meticulous pruning yields all kinds of benefits this coming year such as greater fruit yield, better quality fruit clusters, good canopy management, and allowance for sun exposure and air circulation. Please note there are various pruning techniques for grapevines, not all grapevines are pruned in the technique we use here at Domaine de Manion.
VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme...
The word is out. The 6th Annual Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour is Saturday, April 30, 2011. Save the date! Please go to Encinitas Garden Festival for more detailed information.