Vineyards: Pruning Vines in Wine Country

Since this is the dormant season, I just went to my two Zin vines, and pruned them back.

Years ago, I took a class in viticulture at Santa Rosa Junior College. They have a wonderful wine program, because there’s so much talent in Wine County. With all of the wineries that are out here in California, you can only imagine all the educational and experiential benefits. A few talented people in the wine business have a passion for sharing their knowledge, and are able to actualize that dream at any of the local colleges and universities, without having to be full time professors.

I studied “An Introduction to Viticulture.” My class and I even got to prune a vineyard, as part of our program. Later, I also pruned a vineyard at Robert Mondavi Winery, while there as a wine educator. So, I’m pretty comfortable with pruning shears in my hand, and intent in my heart.

wild mustard

Traditionally, vines on a trellis are pruned at the cane’s second node on the cordon. (Cordon is French for ribbon; hence, Chicken Cordon Bleu equals Blue Ribbon Chicken.”)

The root system comes through the ground, becoming a solid trunk. The trunk grows up and branches off into canes or cordons. Cordons are to the grape vine what limbs are to a tree. Cordons have segments that are called internodes, and where they’re joined on the cordon is called a node. They’re spaced about two and a half to three inches apart. From the point of one segment to another, small buds push forth. (It’s interesting to note that inside these buds, if you were to examine one of them under a microscope, you’d be able to see all the elements for the next season… Cordons with leaves, grape clusters, and tendrils.) It’s amazing.

Just as I did with Verasion to Raisin, I’ll now take time to document a vine (in images) from this pruned image to the point where we have tiny grapes like we first documented last year. That will then be a complete life cycle… from a pruned vine to raisins in the sun!

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