As the days get longer, the dormant vines begin to awaken. The little buds nod their sleep heads and burst from their slumber, unfurling into little leaves that will stretch and reach toward the sun gathering the materials they need for the vine to flower and set fruit.
This is called bud break, and it is an exciting moment in the vineyard.
But before this happens, the vines must be prepared. And that means
Pruning pruning pruning! and planting too!
After a week off to attend the Wine Ambassador course in Los Angeles, with Vinitaly, I spent two days in Ventura County vineyards this week and several days earlier in the month as part of my 2019 resolution to understand wine making from the vineyard up.
In winter, the pressure is on to get the pruning down before the buds break, we’ve been having this winter, getting into the vineyards and getting it done has been challenging. Some days in the vineyard, the sap has run enough that the bees have been buzzing even though the local mountain peaks are snowcapped!
It’s not like we can’t work in the rain– but that we can’t get to work when the clay soil roads are too slick or the sedimentary soil roads are washed out.
Since the South Mountain vineyards are finally pruned, on Monday we worked in the Santa Paula Olivelands vineyard owned by Limoneira on Telegraph Road near Wheeler Gorge. Bruce pruned a bunch of vines to give the Limoneira crew an idea of how it’s done, then later in the afternoon, we joined them.
Today Bruce, Gretel, and I plus our three dogs headed out to Fillmore to finish up the pruning out there. Fortunately when we arrived on this drizzly day, farmer Steve had already pruned much of the vineyard,
… as well as had his crew plant new vines too in the soft pliable rain softened earth.
While we did get sprinkled on today, it didn’t keep us from finishing the pruning!
Or enjoying a tail gate picnic in the vineyard with sandwiches from Roan Mills which grows the wheat, grinds it, and bakes it into break for the sandwiches we enjoyed. Mine was prosciutto, brie and fig with arugula from their farm. SO GOOD paired with an orange Clos des Amis Chardonnay from the Olivelands Vineyard.
It’s not all work and no play at the winery this month, but unfortunately I missed the day that Bruce busted open a bunch of sparkling wine. But with more inclement weather on the horizon, more experimenting is on the way as well as filtering wines and other prep for bottling now that labels have been approved following the government shutdown.
I love love love pruning and being out in the vineyard — as did my dog Cisco!. And not just because I love hanging out and learning over lunch with excellent wine…
Looking forward to what March will bring!
Stay tuned and subscribe!
Pruning… that’s something I haven’t done but would like to learn. I hear it is indeed an art. Good for you taking on from the vineyard up!
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Yes, it is definitely an art! These are just baby vines so one of the challenges is making sure that it is the most viable that is saved and not pruned AND instead of a traditional cordon trellis method and where I could follow the lines of people who prided them before, these are being head trained and more to consider.
Excellent photos and commentary, Gwendolyn. I would love to do a vineyard boot camp to gain a better appreciation for all the effort involved. Thanks for giving us a glimpse.
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What a great idea! And it would be so fun to do!
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