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Monday, 21 March 2011

More Pruning – Days 3 and 4

I’m still recovering from an intense two days of pruning (last Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th).

Collateral damage

Apart from the blisters on my hands, the following are the muscles in my body are sore today: fingers, thumbs, forearms, elbows, biceps, shoulders, buttocks, thighs, calves and toes!!!! But especially the fingers! I guess that’s what happens when you only do certain movements once a year!

On Saturday, there were 10 of us altogether. Earlier in the week I'd sent an SOS email to my mailing list of usual customers, and asked anyone who could, to come out to the vineyard and give us a hand.

Helpers in Action (1)

We finally solved our dilemma of what to do with helpers who don’t know how to prune. On the one hand, if we were to carefully explain the theory and demonstrate the practice of pruning to them, then we wouldn’t actually get any pruning done!!! And on the other hand, if we were to let them loose in the vineyard with a pair of pruning shears in hand, … well, you can imagine the disaster.

Helpers in Action (2)

What we did was in fact to let them loose with a pair of pruning shears in hand, but with instructions to prune all the canes down to a length of about 10 cm, or leaving at least two buttons. At the same time, two helpers would accompany me and Juan, and we would teach them and explain the technique as we pruned. After a while the ‘apprentices’ would rotate and another two pre-pruners would become ‘apprentices’.

Helpers in Action (3)

This pre-pruning helped us a lot: we could prune faster as there were no long canes getting in our way, and all the helpers got to learn how to prune.

A major disaster and serious error in planning occurred that day: for the first time in 8 years, ie ever since we started growing grapes and making wine, I forgot to bring a bottle of wine from the vineyard. When we stop for a mid-morning break and for lunch, it’s great to drink and taste the actual physical result of our labours (and try to guess which vines it came from!). It’s the most ‘local’ you can get, drinking a wine made from vines that you’re standing beside! Oh well, we had to do without that little pleasure.

The Next Day

On Sunday, it was just me and Juan and his dog.

We noticed a strange thing while pruning – there seemed to be a lot of canes growing from the underside of the ‘arms’ of the vines. Usually, they grow more or less from any position, and a few also sprout from strange places, like from underneath. Like these two, for example:

Canes growing from underneath

More canes growing from underneath

Then we came up with a theory. We figured that it’s related to the late overnight freeze we had last year during the night of 7th-8th May. A lot of young tips were frozen off and so the vine had to sprout new shoots to compensate for the losses; so maybe there were no well-positioned places left and the vine had to use any latent buds it had available, even if they were located in sub-optimal positions. Any thoughts, anyone?

Half-pruned vineyard in Carabaña

By the end of the day, we’d pruned (over Sat and Sun) about half of the Carabaña vineyard, ie 0.5 hectares. That leaves us with 0.5 ha to finish in Carabaña and a whole 1.0 ha in the other vineyard in Villarejo.

On the Sunday, I remembered to bring the wine:

Local Wine: the end result of all our labours

                           A pre-pruned vine 
                                                                                     A pruned vine

And lastly, it looks like we have yet another new neighbour, or neighbours. We found the left-overs of a picnic on top of a few vines:



  1. Have only just found your blog and it's really fascinating and detailed. I've added it to my favourites. Great for those wishing to learn more about vinification.

  2. Thank you, I'm glad you find it interesting - that's really encouraging for me.


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