It suddenly came to me today, on my annual New Year walk through the vineyard (delayed this year due to the abysmal weather and my day job), that I should adopt a different approach to pruning this year. Nothing too drastic, just a small change in the order in which I prune the Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) and Syrah vines.
Typically, I prune the CS last with the objective of retarding budbreak, thus avoiding frost damage in that particular block of vines (we have no fans or overhead sprinklers in Vinoland). Consequently, budbreak in the CS is on average a full 3 weeks behind the Syrah...a great cultural approach to frost protection but one that results in very late maturation in the CS vines. Having been plagued with early rains the past two harvests, I have decided to address the late budbreak issue by determining an earlier start to the growing season for the CS. And I can affect that change in the vines by altering the sequence of my pruning schedule.
Accompanied as usual by the Vinodogs, who were more interested in the cornucopian gopher activity along the vine rows than the vines themselves, I was rather pleased with what I saw in the now skeletal-like forms of the dormant vines - balance. Balanced grapevines do not require much in the way of canopy management, thank goodness. There was no need to hedge the vines in Vinoland last summer, unlike in some vineyards that display excessive vegetal growth. The uniform length of last years now leafless shoots stands as a testament to the importance of influencing the ratio between crop and vegetation. This is another result of effective pruning.
V2 only seemed like she was interested in what I was doing; instead she was really only focused on where her next, super-fresh and furry, snack was going to appear.