Welcome back to the vineyard. It is early spring here in Lake Chelan, and the vines are finally ready to start the process of growing fruit and bringing us grapes for winemaking this fall. This time of the year and from now on through the summer all we’re going to be thinking about is canopy management. That must seem like the science-y term that’s just a little scary, but no. All we’re doing is worrying about what’s going to happen with the shoots, where the fruit is placed, what happens with the leaves, and everything from the cordons on up. We’re thinking about this because it impacts what the fruit looks and tastes like when it comes to harvest time.
Two bud pruning
We’re going to be pruning in the vineyard today, and at Nefarious, we do something called two bud pruning. We do this for a reason. Each one of the buds on these canes will produce a tendril or a shoot. Our ideal scenario is when these shoots have come up, that we’ve got about four inches, or about a fist, between every one of these shoots that comes out of the bud.
Now that means that we’re going to have one shoot coming out of the bud and one shoot that we’re actually going to let go of in late spring or early summer. If we had two shoots, our spacing would be too tight, and the fruit wouldn’t get enough sunlight during the growing season. But, for now, we keep two buds because we don’t want to risk that one will get knocked off. If we just cut down to one and then we might have no shoot at all. That is why we do two bud pruning, to hedge our bets a little bit to make sure that we have one good shoot here going along this cordon and coming out of each one of the canes.
One, two, cut
Let me show you what we actually do. I’ve got a pair of pruning shears. On each one of these canes, I’m going to count up two buds, one, two, then cut. These guys are really, really hardy so they can be hard to cut. Then I go ahead and drop those onto the ground. If you happen to make it by my house (which you probably won’t because I’m sure we’re a distance away), I love to save those canes because they make beautiful arrangements after I’ve been pruning in the vineyard. (But now that’s just kind of made you sad probably.)
So we’re just going to come into the vines, and I’m going to go along and do that with every single one of these canes for every single vine out here in the vineyard. When it’s all said and done, this is what they’re going to look like. The shoots will start to pop out of here in the next little bit and our next video in a month or so will be all about shoot thinning so we’ll come back and keep working through the process of growing these beautiful vines into grapes for wine in the fall.