Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The New Mourvedre Vines Get Pruned

Stefania wanted to prune the twenty five new Mourvedre vines herself, so I took the pictures. The vines are one year old and at this stage require some special pruning techniques. The focus is on getting the plant established and trained properly in year two so we're not worried about fruit at all.

If you remember a goal of this project was to cut water use in our yard, so we watered these plants very little last year. They are smaller than we'd have in a commercial vineyard as a result, but still in good shape. This is one of the more vigorous vines.

This vine is ready to be pruned back to two buds that will establish the arms or cordons for the plant. Stefania is pointing to the two buds she's selected to start the new cordons. It's important to select buds below the wire. The new growth will grow up and if the buds are two high the cordons will have to loop down to the wire and will be prone to breaking.

Here she makes the cut below the wire after having selected the buds she wants to grow.

On a new plant like this all the buds will grow though so she has to clean up the buds she doesn't want to grow and nip them off with the pruners. That's the phrase, "nip it in the bud". She cuts off any other growth on the plant and cuts off the other buds. This will focus all the plant energy on the two remaining buds and allow the trunk to grow strong.

The finished vine. Stef often advises people thinking of putting in a vineyard that in winter it will look like "A stick and wire farm".

And a rare picture of the master pruner. Many wineries are actually very picky about who prunes. Because it is a specialty skill and each plant requires special attention it's difficult to get an untrained crew to do a good job. In general we just use the 'A' team to prune.

This plant is not yet to the wire. About 10 of the 25 did not reach the wire yet. We'll take this plant back to a single bud near the base. That way it can focus all its energy into growing a strong trunk this year.

Stefania points to the bud that she is going to keep to establish the trunk. This vine should actually grow enough this year that we'll be able to get one cordon started on it after it reaches the wire. In year two each cane should grow 5-10 feet.

Stef makes the cut. We actually keep two buds. In our urban environment with people passing by the buds are prone to damage. The second bud is a 'safety' in case anything goes wrong with the first one. We'll remove the second growth as soon as the first gets established.

The final step again is to clean up the plant of any remaining growth or buds. You can also see that the wildflower ground cover is starting to come back again. We choose self seeding plants for the vineyard. We've also decided not to clean up under the rows this year. Usually we'd keep the area under the rows clear so the plants are not in competition with the vines. For the yard though we've decided to let the wild flowers go. The soil is pretty fertile and the vines should do just fine.

The finished vine. I'll have more tomorrow on the vines in the backyard and how to prune a three+ year old cordon and spur plant.


Squiddo said...

man, that poor little vine looks so sad once it's clipped down to the bud.

I do LOVE Mourvedre

Matt said...

I doubt you have enough planted, but I'd be a big fan of a Stefania mourvedre wine.

Paul Romero said...

At some point I'm sure we'll do a 100% Mourvedre or at least something over 80%. By 2013 a good percentage of the Haut Tubee wine (25%+) should be Mourvedre.