Here we are at the end of February and one might think we are well into April. The wildflowers are out, the sages are blooming and the green grass is on the edge of turning a dull yellow if it doesn’t get a drink of rain. As of February 26, we’re also done with pruning in the vineyards . That finish date is about three and a half weeks earlier than last year’s. In 2014, we started our prune (la poda) about two weeks later than this year and as a result found ourselves racing to beat the bud break. The unseasonably warm weather of January and February 2014 meant we finished pruning just in time. This year, in order to adjust to the changes in climate (not meaning to get political, but it’s real) we decided to do a few things differently in our vineyards and one of those was an earlier start to pruning. Since January 2015 was one of the driest on record it seems like we made the right decision.
Pruning is truly a sculptural process that demands a trained mind and eye. Canes and cordons must be observed for evenly spaced buds and then the decision must be made to remove or save the bud for the upcoming growing season. Once you make a cut, that’s it, you can’t go back. If you choose poorly and cut the better of two canes, the subsequent grapes could be of lesser quality. A skilled pruner is also looking at the balance of the vine, making sure there is an even number of quality canes or spaced spurs. Fortunately, at Talley Vineyards we have one of the most skilled pruners in the area, our foreman Daniel Martinez. A former machinist and longtime vineyard worker, Daniel prunes vines with amazing care and dexterity that is evidence of his extensive experience.
|Spur Pruning||Scott Henry Pruning|
Pruning decisions represent the culmination of many factors – the experiences of previous years and observations from our vineyard manager, foreman, wine maker and vintner. Some vineyard blocks will be changed from spur pruning to cane and possibly back to spur again to obtain the quality that we expect for our wines. Canes might be trained apart so that half the vines grow up and half grow down (known as Scott-Henry) to balance the vines’ energy in blocks with more vigor. At times, canes are spaced apart to allow more light to fruit and improve color in wines. The list of pruning techniques can go on, but with every pruning decision the goal is always the same for us - quality and balance in the finished wines.