Monday, January 04, 2010

Pruning the Haut Tubee Vineyard

Today Stefania and I started with coffee in bed and some oatmeal, then off to the gym for an hour workout. The first full moon of the year was December 31st. Wait - not the new year you say? That threw me off in 2008 also when we started pruning very late in January. I'd mixed up my Roman calender with our modern calender. The ancient new year would have begun with the first new moon after the winter solstice. So the first new moon of the ancient lunar year, the one we prune by was December 31st.

I started with the 9 year old head trained vines by the driveway. These are the last head trained vines we have at the house, everything else is on wires now.

The term 'head trained' is probably misleading. Crown trained or maybe even 'Medusa' trained would be more descriptive. It basically means the vine has a single stalk the comes out and then branches out into arms that contain the spurs where new growth will come from. The 'head' is at the point the arms branch out. Which is why I don't think it's a great term. Most things don't have arms coming out of their heads.

This is what it looked like when I started. with last years growth. We tie the growth up a single post. That's how it's done in the Northern Rhone. Most head trained vines in California, Spain and elsewhere are not tied up, they flop on the ground.

The first thing I do is figure which of the two or more stalks I'll keep. I want a strong one with good buds, and the buds should point up not down so they will grow up. I also check spacing and try to imagine how the buds will grow so that there is good spacing and enough room for the fruit to come out.

These two stalks grew last year from two buds I had selected. It's almost impossible to describe the difference between one year old wood and older wood without a picture, but in this picture you can clearly see the one year old wood is lighter. This will be what produces new growth this year. The older wood will not.

Here are the two buds I selected. I liked the health of the stalk and the direction and spacing of the buds. The buds are the little nubs sticking out from the stalk.

After making the cut I'm left with one 'spur' that contains two buds. These two buds will produce two new stalks and 2-4 bunches of fruit. This Grenache plant will grow 6-12 feet during the season from these two small buds.

This is a good shot of the buds. It's all about the buds. We count buds, nip buds, look for bud positioning, directions of the buds. The buds have the new growth and the new fruit for 2010, so we work hard to pick the best ones and the right ones.

The finished plant. The one year old wood will become the spurs for new growth and this plant should produce 15-20 bunches of fruit. I've left five spurs and a total of ten buds on the plant. This particular plant is one of the most vigorous we have had in any vineyard, but last year it started to slow down a little. That's one reason old vines are prized, they tend to moderate their growth as they age.

More to come this week. I'll go over pruning the new one year old Mourvedre vines, and the cane and spur vines we converted from head trained in the back yard.

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