Getting our vines in shape for a healthy harvest
It is the start of another new year and the start of our work on the vines that will produce our 2020 vintages.
The vines themselves are in a dormant state and this is when many vineyards in Europe, ours included, begin winter pruning.
The patron saint of vintners, St Vincent, has his feast day on January 22nd and there is a popular legend that links him to pruning. On one of his travels, St Vincent stopped by a vineyard to talk to the winemaker. While he chatted, his donkey nibbled at the vines. The following harvest, the vines that the donkey nibbled grew the healthiest and most abundant grapes, and thus the benefit of pruning the vines was established!
Vincent’s name can also be linked to the pruning process. In French, the name is pronounced Vin Sang. The direct translation of these words is wine blood – perhaps the sap that emerges as the vines are pruned?
Winter pruning will take place at Poulton Hill Vineyard during January, regardless of the weather. It is vital to get this process completed before bud break or bud burst, which occurs in March to April.
We prune by hand at Poulton Hill, which can mean many chilly mornings as we work up and down the vines. Some vineyards in France used to keep their workers warm with Chariots de Feu (quite literally Chariots of Fire), which were oil drums on wheels or wheelbarrows that would be moved between the vines burning the wood that had been pruned. We have to make do with warm gloves, hats and thick socks.