Ever wonder what’s happening in the vines at this time of year?
Well, nothing much on one hand; and then, really, quite a lot.
During the winter months, the vines at Beaufort enter a period of dormancy; no leaves and no perceptible growth. And yet, this is a very important phase in the annual growth cycle of the vine.
Winter time functions as a rest phase and the vine, no longer generating energy through photosynthesis, slows right down. It slows down so much in fact, that a really hard pruning can take place without damaging overall vine health. Indeed, pruning is key to creating a robust and healthy vine in the following season, as well as a good yield at harvest.
Of course, there are lots of different pruning systems employed in vineyards throughout the wine-growing world. Climate, soil type, labour availability, grape variety and vineyard orientation are just a handful of factors influencing a vineyard manager’s pruning technique. At Beaufort, and mainly due to our cooler climate, we employ a technique known as cane pruning. Up to 90% of the previous year’s growth is removed, and a careful selection of shoots is made so that the plant can preform in the most desirable way during the growing season. Grapes grow on vines after all, and vines can be particularly vigorous in their growth, though not necessarily generous in fruit set. While great wine certainly starts with good soil, pruning is similarly key in mitigating many of the potential problems in the vineyard and in the winery. With pruning we can influence yield and ripeness, reduce the risk of disease, lay the foundation for a quick and efficient harvest, as well as limit the amount of work required in the vines during the growing season.
And so, as we approach pruning time at Beaufort, here’s to the shears – one of the most important tools in the winery! Well, after the corkscrew…