Vintage Update: Pruning

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June 2021


As the days shorten and the weather becomes cooler and hopefully wetter, there is still much to do in the vineyards as the vines approach crucial dormancy. We are pruning the vineyards during this period, removing year-old canes that bore the previous vintage’s fruit. The next vintage will be from its own canes on a mature vine frame. At Pt. Leo Estate, we use two pruning methods – Spur and Cane Pruning.

We primarily use Spur Pruning on our Pinot Gris vines. The foundation of spur pruning begins when the vines are first established, where one or two pairs of young canes are attached to the cordon wire (the first trellising wire) to – over the subsequent years – form a permanent cordon arm of mature vine that provides the framework on which the spurs sit, and from which the canes grow for each succeeding vintage. The mature framework is known as wood to distinguish it from the year-old canes during pruning.

The spurs (previously just buds) on the mature vine are generally established to be about a fist apart on the cordon arm. The number of buds retained on each spur will determine the number of the following year’s canes and, therefore, fruit yield. On any particular single cordon arm, bud load can be anywhere from five to fifteen buds in the spring, or 2-3 buds per spur for moderate yield.

For cane pruning, which is mostly used on our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines, the cane retained from the previous winter is removed. The mature shoots from the replacement spur are cut to produce a unit comprising a two-node (replacement) spur to a 10- to 15-node cane.

During winter, the cane from the previous year is cut off, and a new one laid down, using one of the canes arising from the spur.

Along with winter pruning, we are planting our cover crop down the middle of each row. Cover crops are planted to provide rich nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil after they are ploughed back into the soil in the spring. At Pt. Leo Estate, we plant oats, peas, and borage.