Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pruning Arastadero and Vista Verde

This has become our standard first picture. A comfortable late start at 8:06 AM, enough time for it to warm up to 36 degrees.

The entrance to the Arastadero Vineyard. We take care of this vineyard for Big Basin Vineyards. They use the fruit for a private client. This hill is very steep and difficult to work on.

A 'before' picture. This vineyard has a mix of two different types of trellis. We've modified one from a four arm system into an 's' system. Instead of 4 fruiting arms, there are two in the shape of an S. This section is a more standard 5 wire VSP system. Stef and Jerry had finished all but 8 rows the day before. With six experienced pruners we completed the last 8 rows in just about 30 minutes.

Here's an 'after'. The clipping we left for Jerry to pick up later when we're under less of a time crunch. We're trying to complete all of our pruning before St Vincent's day on the 22nd. That was the traditional pruning schedule, and since we've done that, we've had great luck with our vineyards.

The next stop was the little Harrison vineyard about a mile away. We installed this two summers ago with 170 Syrah plants. It took us just 30 minutes to finish here as well. The plants were pruned back to two buds this year to start their arms. Usually in year two you would have arms, but because we planted this so late the first year (after the 4th of July) it's more like a 1 1/2 year old vineyard than two years.

Our final stop for the day was Vista Verde, our newest vineyard. This is about 1 1/4 acres of Pinot Noir on a very steep hill. We thought this might take us two days to do because of the slope. Here's Stefania, with Kathy and 'Jazzy' in the background. You can see how steep this site is.

Here's Jerry working in the same area of the hill. When we're restoring a vineyard like this, I prefer to only use experienced pruners who know how to deal with 'do overs' and 'restarts' on plants. Our crew yesterday was Millie, Kathy, Jerry, his wife Estella, Stefania and me.

Estella, Jerry and Millie working in a little bowl of the vineyard. In the summer this bowl will actually catch the afternoon sun, but in the middle of winter it was still shady at noon.

Here's a 'before' picture, and a good example of why a new vineyard can take so long. The pruning here was not terrible, it just wasn't up to our quality. There is too much growth in the center, that encourages mildew, and some shoots are too long. That weakens other shoots and the plant spends its energy growing leafs instead of getting fruit ripe.

Here it is after fixing the problems. The center of the vine is now cleaned up and the spacing is right. This vine will now grow 10-12 shoots.

This was a hard vineyard to work. It was steep and needed a lot of expert care. One of the funny things from the day was that there are parts so steep, you need to get a running start at the vine, jump up the hill and grab it by the base. You then dig in your knees and prune. When you're done you slide back down off the hill and do the entire thing over again.
Still we had a great crew and we finished by 3 PM. More on today's pruning coming tomorrow.


Tim Corliss said...

if you ever want to add more to your temp crew, I'd love to help.

Paul Romero said...

Tim, Our last big prune is this weekend at Chaine d'Or. We're ahead of schedule and may finish in just two days there.