Yep, it's winter. Not sure what you all see out your window right now, but here in the Brogue it's cold and wet and foggy and white. It's February in southern Pennsylvania, and I know I don't have much to complain about compared to our neighbors in New England, but I'd give a lot right now for a little sunshine and green grass.
The winter months are when we prune our vines back down. After harvest, the vines drop their leaves after sucking up as many carbohydrates as possible. These they will store through the winter and actually use to push the new growth for the first couple of weeks next spring. This is the time in which we cut off around 90% of what grew from each vine the previous year and start to form the shape and manipulate the yield for the coming season.
We're trying a new pruning/training system this year. My viticulture consultant--Lucie Morton, the best in the east--calls it "cane and a half". Usually, a person either cane prunes or spur prunes. This is a modification of the former. Hopefully, it'll give us more consistent fruitfulness across the buds we leave, and therefore perhaps a better yield without compromising quality.
We're at least a third done at this time, with about 6 weeks to go. I'd like to be done by the first of March, and then tied down by the middle of March. These days, the majority of the actual pruning is done by Matt, my vineyard go-to man. He's been pruning for over fifteen years. I'm not sure he's sold yet on this new-fangled method. I don't blame him. Not sure I'd like to prune this way either. But the proof will be this fall.
We'll just have to wait and see. Like most of the best things in life.