The importance of pruning

Join Squerryes' Vineyard Manager, Richard, as he talks about the cold winter days spent pruning and why's it's so important

You may wonder what goes on in the vineyard during the winter and what the team did once harvest finished? Well, after a short, well-earned break, winter is an important period with plenty to do to prepare the vines for the coming season.

In the initial post-harvest period the vines completed the storage of carbohydrates from the canes and shoots back into their trunks and roots, ready for the next season, before winter dormancy. But while the vines were resting, the team were busy. Our main task was pruning, with every one of our 85,000 vines pruned by hand. We started pruning in early December and should have the vineyard ready for the coming season by around Easter.

Not only is pruning important from a practical perspective, to keep the vineyard tidy and allow machinery and personnel to move around more easily, it also sets the vines up correctly for the coming year and beyond. Fruit for the coming season will come from buds on shoots that grew last year, so the technical side of pruning is to select canes that will optimise the vine’s future production. Ideally, we look for a couple of canes, healthy and well positioned on either side of the vine, close to the top of the trunk and naturally running along the line of the fruiting wire. We also look for a couple of spare canes, located below the canes selected, which we will cut back to a couple of buds, with these spurs giving us additional options for pruning next winter.

Squerryes Estate Prune Vines

Once pruning is finished, we remove all of the cut canes from the trellising, including the canes that had been tied down and produced shoots and fruit last season, leaving the two selected canes on each vine. The final step is to tie these canes down to the fruiting wire, taking care not to damage the buds which will generate new green shoots when the vine stir from dormancy. Before tying down, these canes could be up to a couple of metres or more in length, with upwards of 16 or more buds. In our cool climate, vines will struggle to produce ripe fruit if we ask too much of them, so we will usually tie down a maximum of 8-9 buds on each cane. This ensures that the vine is balanced and can optimise the production of canopy and fruit through the growing season.

Squerryes Estate Vines

As we are now coming to the end of this mammoth task, we will busy ourselves with a few other maintenance jobs while we wait for the first signs of bud burst and the start of the 2024 growing season. But for now, we have plenty still to do.

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Event Date:
March 7, 2024
& December 10, 2022
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