Guy Downes
 
January 12, 2011 | Wine Making | Guy Downes

Winter in the Vineyard

At any winery winter is a dormant time for vines but that doesn't mean it's a quiet time! We're in the middle of 'pruning season' here in Napa and we wanted to take a moment to let you know why winemakers do this and how it helps us produce the wines you know and love.

People often think of harvest as the exciting time of the year for a winery and while that maybe true a good harvest would be impossible without the vital work that takes place during pruning season. Good pruning really sets up vines for the year to come, dictating canopy shape and the number of buds that will form therefore having a real impact on the yield of the vine. We're often asked why pruning takes place at this time of the year and in fact pruning can be done any time of the year after leaves drop from the vines but here in Napa pruning generally takes place anytime between December and February. Winemakers have to make sure pruning is completed before the growing season begins again which is signified by 'bud-break', usually this happens mid-March.

So just how do you prune vines? Well they are pruned pretty aggressively in a similar way to how you might prune a rose bush. Often winemakers will reduce wild shoots that can extend out up to five feet down to almost nothing, often down to the skeleton of the vine itself. During this process the VSP (vertical shoot positioning) method is used which directs the shoots vertically through trellis wires. Using this method ensures that the leaves enjoy the best possible exposure which offers filtered light to grape clusters in turn increasing the fruit factor of the finished wine.

If you have any questions about pruning or any part of the wine making process here at Bourassa leave us a comment below. 

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Pruning is indeed an important part in regular maintenance of plants. It gets rid of the old branches to give way to a new batch that would hopefully grow healthier shoots and be more fruitful. It's good to be updated on how Napa vineyards produce their best wine!

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