As temperatures dip and days shorten, the vines gradually transition into a new phase of their annual cycle. The golden leaves of fall drop to the earth after harvest, leaving their trunks and canes nakedly exposed to the elements. The vines mature and harden their renewal buds for next year’s growing season.
Winter dormancy begins soon thereafter, ceasing all above-ground growth for the season. The vine’s metabolism slows, allowing it to stockpile carbohydrates in the trunk for use in spring when the vines reawaken. The remaining energy is redirected from leaf and fruit production into the root systems that soak up nutrients and grow. The nutrients absorbed from the soil in winter combine with carbohydrates stored in the trunks to provide the energy required to grow new shoots and leaves in the spring once the ambient temperature reaches 50 degrees.
WINTER WORK IN THE VINEYARD
There is critical work to be done in the winter vineyard. In addition to trellis, irrigation, and equipment maintenance, winter pruning is one of the most important aspects of vineyard management. This critical process determines how many buds will emerge come spring and ultimately, how many leaves and grape bunches each vine will produce. Successful pruning requires training, skill, and experience as it significantly affects both the quantity and the quality of the fruit. Under-pruning can lead to an overly abundant canopy and too many bunches, thereby reducing quality. On the other hand, over-pruning can result in vines that spend much of their energy growing leaves rather than producing and ripening fruit. The ultimate goal of pruning is to achieve a delicate balance between a viable yield and top quality.