It was August last year when I last spoke about Pruning our vines at St Maur and as I look back it really feels like it’s a bit paradoxical. It seems like yesterday when I wrote that newsletter and it also seems an age ago, given the events that have shaped the last year.
With this in mind, I am hoping our pruning this winter will be both physical and metaphorical. As the last vintage (2020) which we lost endured drought and fires, I hope that the pruning this year will re-invigorate both the vines, as well as reset us all, for a better year ahead.
You might ask why pruning is important? Put simply, we prune the vines to make sure that they set with the optimum amount of leaves and foliage, which in turn produces a sustainable, high quality and quantity of fruit. It’s the foundation on which the vintage will be built.
When you prune the vines well, the leaves get the right amount of sunshine and airflow, combining water and carbon dioxide, to form sugars that make their way into the grapes. These sugars, amongst other things, will affect the quality of the vintage, so it’s important to get this right.
Traditionally we employed the “Spur Pruning” method with our vines at St Maur. It’s shown well in the image above. We covered this in the August 2019 newsletter in detail – you can read the old newsletter here.
This year, we will start to prune some of our vines employing “Cane Pruning” also referred to as the Guyot training system. Guyot is a common method for training vines, especially in cool climates where a frost late in the season can threaten the vines.
This method prunes the vines back to an arm from the trunk and fruiting cane with one renewal spur. There can be single, double or more canes left on the vine. Renewal spurs can sometimes sprout two buds that will develop into the next vintage’s fruiting cane, with the old fruiting cane pruned.
Spur pruning (also known as Cordon trained) was good for the vines from a drought perspective and the method is employed in France’s champagne and Beaujolais regions. Cane Pruning is good as it can promote higher quality fruit and the method is employed in Bordeaux and also Champagne in France.
The rationale for Cane pruning is that it will yield the optimal combination of quality and volume in our grapes and it will be interesting to see the difference between the Cane pruned vines and the Spur pruned vines as they develop.
It’s been over 20 years since we planted our vines and we are still learning and searching for improvement. If the past 12 months have taught me anything, it’s that you really can’t predict the future. Change seems to be constant and resilience will sustain all of us. It’s nice to be comfortable, but sometimes you have to try something different to see new growth.
I am glad to report that the Cellar Door is open again (with fewer restrictions) and I thank all our supporters that have dropped into the vineyard or ordered online. While state borders are yet to open fully if you are in NSW can I suggest you plan some trips to our NSW regions. Many businesses are still feeling the pain of the fires and lockdown. Your support is and will be greatly appreciated.
I hope that you all are safe and trust that you keep up sensible practices as we work through Covid-19. And I look forward to reporting on how our pruning progresses both in the vineyard and also metaphorically.
This post was written by St Maur Wines