Pruning is the major endeavor occurring during winter in the vineyard.But it is important that one does not snip until one divines the sap to have flown below. It generally requires several weeks of cold winter weather to complete the process of dormancy and until that happens, one waits, ruminating on what is to come.By the middle of January this year it felt like things were ready to go; snow was on the ground, a cold north wind had been blowing for days and even the gophers were not advertising their whereabouts.So, hearty crew that we are, the four of us bundled up and ventured out into the first block of Pinot noir.
The goats were let out of their paddock and came to join us; the geese waddled up to check out the activity; dogs trotted up and down the rows undoubtedly hoping to find something dead to roll in and, finally, the sheriff (Guido the cat) arrived and sauntered down a row to give his approval of the whole affair. At first pruning seems like a pretty radical undertaking: virtually all of the previous year’s growth is severed and removed from the vine and trellis; the only thing that remains is the main trunk and one or two canes jutting from the head of the vine. But how one chooses the proper canes is not always obvious and will set the tone for each vine’s contribution to the quality of next year’s wine. For example the canes should ideally come off of opposite sides of the vine so that the vascular system is balanced when it comes to supplying nutrients to the emerging buds. Internodes (the distance between buds) on each cane need to be the proper distance so that the new shoots are neither too cramped nor too far apart. And the decision on what constitutes the perfect cane needs to be arrived at after only a brief moment of conjecture. There are approximately 1500 vines per acre and 6 acres of vines at Clos Electrique. That’s 9000 vines that have to be properly groomed by the end of February at which point each cane gets carefully wrapped and tied to the fruiting wire of the trellis. In the course of pruning, one enters a personal space of introspection and when it tacks toward seeking the truth, well, one has arrived at the Zen of pruning.Share This
Recent News & Rants
I am a bit perplexed by the popularity of a relatively new genre of wine: “Natural Wines”. In my opinion, this is a narrow and arbitrary classification meant to suit the marketing needs of whoever is using it. When I see a cloudy wine and am told “Oh this is a natural wine”, I am compelled to retort “I can’t think of anything more natural than gravity…maybe the winemaker should have waited to rack his wine for bottling!” And when one encounters a wine which is either oxidized or smells of fingernail polish remover or has been brutalized by a lactic acid bacteria infection, sure these are “natural processes” but they also emanate from poor winemaking practices.There’s More... >
2016 was an extremely dry and warm vintage. Because of water stress, the berries were smaller and crop smaller than usual. However, a beneficient rain in early September re-hydrated the fruit and the result is a cellar of very concentrated and wonderfully balanced wines. Get ready for a brilliant 2016 vintage of small production down the road!There’s More... >
Guido, our 18 year old Tuxedoed cat, quietly passed away on August 18. For 17 vintages, Guido was our constant companion in the cellar, in the vineyard, in the yurt.There’s More... >