Behind the Scenes

Grapevine Pruning: When and How to Prune Grapevines for Quality Winemaking

Winter. It’s the season for rejuvenation, not just for people but for plants as well. In wine country, winter is the time when vineyards sleep and recharge, waiting for the long, cold nights to get shorter and shorter. And the sun to rise earlier and earlier–a sign that spring is near. All winter long, it’s a race against Mother Nature’s clock to finish one of the most important steps if vineyard farming–grapevine pruning. When and how to prune grapevines can affect the quantity of the grapes and ultimately the quality of the wine. Just like winemaking, grapevine pruning is both a science and an art. In this educational video, fifth-generation Alexander Valley farmer Bret Munselle, one of Jordan’s key grapegrowers, discusses grapevine pruning during the winter and the challenges that arise.

Pruning grapevines is the longest and most laborious task winegrowers endure in the vineyards each year. Vines go into winter dormancy in November or December–losing the last of their leaves and leaving only bare cane shoots in their canopies–which is the ideal time for the vines to be pruned of their old wood. Vineyard teams spent up to four months of the winter season hand-cutting the vine’s canes from the previous growing season with the goal of leaving the precise number of buds to create a balanced crop once the grapevine awakens from its winter dormancy, and the dormant buds push. We call the growth of new buds “budbreak,” and it usually occurs right around the beginning of spring.

2 Comments
Jordan Winery experiment: machine pre-pruner grapevine pruning

[…] their winter dormancy period remains the most expensive type of vineyard work we do each year. The practice is tedious and downright tiring with a lot of repetitive motion—it is both an art and a science, as […]

(Reply)
Budbreak at Jordan Winery: 2014 vintage growing season Sonoma County

[…] one week earlier than usual for our vineyards. (This was partly due to weather and the timing of pruning.) Days in early March were unseasonably warm and sunny, sending each plant’s tiny leaves […]

(Reply)

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Lisa Mattson

Videographer, photographer, writer and publicist. Find me on weekends trying to capture footage of the elusive Jordan Estate jack rabbits and turkeys.

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