We are getting an early start to pruning this year. The vines are ready and I have a suspicion that, despite the cold weather, we will see an early spring. That means the vines will be translocating the sap early as they come out of dormancy and it's not a good idea to be cutting into the canes at this time.
You can see from the photos that we use the cane pruning method.
This means that we select two or three healhy canes and the remainder of the summer's growth is pruned away. It's there in the vine row behind this pruned vine (it's a Cabernet Franc). These retained canes provide the framework for next year's growth. Each bud on the cane will grow into a shoot and each of these shoots will have one or two bunches of grapes. This is the way we control the crop level--on this vine for example, we have left 6-8 buds per cane. Once the vine is growing, we will come through and remove any shoots we think are weak or poorly positioned to further reduce the crop.
But we haven't finished yet--these canes need to be tied down along the trellis wire to spread the new growth and allow sunlight and air to penetrate, avoiding a dense, compacted canopy.
We have completed this procedure in the Pinot Noir as you can see here:
Now we are ready for spring. That's if it stops raining.