As winter draws to a close, the team at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery has been working outdoors in brisk weather to prune and tend to the vines.
"The intent of pruning in general is to control the size of the vine, optimize the production potential of the vine, and to maintain the balance between shoot and fruit growth," vineyard manager Shawna Mull explains.
Between fall harvest and spring bud break, pruning is necessary to review each vine in each row to monitor its condition. Dead, diseased, or severely damaged parts of the vine are removed. This step helps the vine concentrate its growth on healthy sections later in the year. When pruning, the best canes and spurs are identified that will yield fruit. This blog post explains the spur pruning process in greater detail with illustrations on cane pruning vs. spur pruning.
Vignole, Vidal, and Seyval grapevines are pruned in that order to mirror the order that white grapes will be harvested. Chambourcin and Concord are pruned last and, subsequently, harvested last in fall.
The photo gallery and videos below illustrate the important work involved with pruning. Pruned canes are gathered in piles and removed by tractor for composting or burning later.
As the weather warms up, Fence Stile will announce opportunities for volunteers to work with the team and help with "suckering" the vines. Once early growth begins in spring, the vines send up shoots, or suckers.
"Suckering is necessary to remove all unnecessary and unwanted growth so that vine's energy can be redirected to the important growth," explains Shriti, Fence Stile's owner. "We end up doing this numerous times in a season. Personally, I enjoy walking the vineyards, looking at each vine, and seeing the progress."
Check the website and Facebook page in coming weeks for more information on volunteering to help with the vines. Meanwhile, the winery's Tasting Room returns to its normal operating hours. Join us for wine tastings on Thursday, 3 pm - 7 pm, Friday 3 pm - 9 pm, Saturday 11 am - 8 pm, or Sunday 11 am - 5 pm. Visit our home page or calendar for event listings and winery tour dates.
Creative director Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.