First a big happy New Year and very best wishes from me and Jack for a wonderful 2016.
I love the winter months here in rural France. It’s quiet with just us locals going about daily life. The pruning gives us grape growers a rhythm to our working days and a way to measure the passing of time. More than at any other period during the year the vineyards are visibly busy, dotted with little white vans and their owners bowed over their work. Our sane friends who don’t grow grapes feel sorry for us as backs bent we inch our way down endless rows of vines but pruning is actually a beautiful thoughtful way to spend time. I love it which is good because we’re talking quite a lot of time. Our longest rows take me 4 hours each so a day’s hard work can result in just 1 and a half rows pruned – my friends will laugh at that knowing my reputation for patience!! We’re a tiny vineyard but nevertheless in total we have around 200 rows and 30,000 vines which adds up to about 4 person months spent bent over in the elements.
Pruning is a skilled job and perhaps the most important one of the year. It sets up the vines not just for the coming growing season but for all the years of growth to come. Each grape variety is different as is each parcel of land as is each individual vine although the goal is homogeneity within a parcel of vines. At this point I could bore the pants off you with my novice but passionate thoughts about the art and science of pruning I definitely could but I’ll resist. Anyway, as you settle back into your work after the holidays you’ll know where I’ll be tomorrow and the day after and every-day after that for the next couple of months so think of me once in a while!