It has been quite a winter here in Stanwood. It was rather mild until the whole of winter decided to happen over a few weeks. Through the snow and the chilly weather we still ventured out in to the vineyard to usher in the beginning of the vineyard calendar - pruning.
The entire pruning process takes about 6 weeks and involves a few passes through the vineyard. To begin, there are several ways to prune a vine. We do what is called cane pruning, or guyot, for several reasons. This is the traditional pruning technique used in cooler climates famous for Pinot Noir; Burgundy, New Zealand, Oregon, and Sonoma. In cane pruning we go through and actually cut back all but about 5 of the canes from the last year. Then, on the second pass, we remove all of last years growth except for 3 canes. We cut these canes back to about 3 feet long which leaves between 8 - 10 potential buds, giving us a desired yield of 2 tons per acre.
Finally, one last pass is made and the selected canes are tied down to the guide wires. The third cane is reserved in case something happens to one of the other 2 canes before we tie them down. Once the 2 canes are tied we simply remove extraneous cane.
We've done our part. Now it's time for the sun to wake up and pitch in.
Cane pruning illustration courtesy of Wine Folly.