Winter is finally here and the winegrowers are gearing up for our pruning season. Once the leaves have fallen off the vines, they are dormant and ready for us to set them up for the next season. Pruning is all about control. Controlling the shape of the vines by positioning the shoots helps sunlight interaction and air flow. It also helps us get the bunches to grow in a similar spot on each vine, which helps with growing season activities such as spraying and leaf-plucking. The number of buds on each vine is also controlled through pruning, which in turn, dictates how many new shoots will grow in the following season.
If you type ‘grape vine pruning methods’ into Google, you will see there are many different methods that have been developed. Winegrowers may experiment with different methods to suit either the variety of grape they grow, or perhaps the climate and the soil types in the region the vineyard is located. As a young winemaker I worked in the Barossa in South Australia, where historical influence meant a number of older Shiraz vineyards were pruned as bush vines, or goblet vines. These vines stand low to the ground on their own, without the need for a trellis for support, which means they generally have fewer buds or shoots growing from them. This pruning technique and the age of the vines can produce grapes of intense flavour, but is inefficient to manage on a larger scale and can be a nightmare for people like me with lower back issues!
Most Matakana winegrowers prune using a double cane technique, where two new canes, or branches, from the previous year are laid down along a wire either side of the main trunk to form a T-shape. The new shoots will then grow up from these canes and be held inside a tunnel of 3 or 4 wires to form wall, or hedge. We’ve had enough experience to know this works well for most vineyards up here.
If you are interested in learning more from the winemakers themselves and trying our local wines, we will be be holding our annual wine tasting and movie night on Sunday, July 31 at Matakana Cinemas.
The film is called ‘From the Vine’, a comedy drama based on the novel Finding Marco by Kenneth Canio Cancellara. It is about a burned out executive returns to his childhood home in Italy and tries to reinvigorate an old vineyard to make wine. Hope to see you there!
Tickets cost $40, which includes the tasting itself and a glass of wine for the 6pm screening. Details can be found online at www.facebook.com/MatakanaWineTrail.