In the Vineyard with Anthony Sannino:
With the new year we also begin a new growing season for our vines. We have removed netting at this time and are getting ready to prune the vines, or give them all a major haircut. Pruning really does begin the growing season even though the vines are dormant. At this time we are making critical decisions and selections of what parts of the vine we want to keep in order for the plant to be most productive. The three photos are the same plant starting with the vine unpruned and leafless vine, last years canes still intact.
This next photo shows how most of the canes are removed and only four centrally located canes remain. All of the canes from this past growing season have buds on them that contain the energy that will produce the shoots, leaves and grapes for the 2011 harvest. We select the inner most canes because they will leave the least amount of space between the trunks when folded down. We really only need two of the four but we always try to have spare ones should one or more crack as we fold and lie them down to the wire.
The photo below now shows how the canes are laying on the wire and tied to it. One is run to the left and the other to the right. I did have a little space still left over between the trunks so I folded part of a third cane across the space. The balance of that one was cut off. At this time our canes also change their name. They are now called cordons. Along the now horizontal cordons are those buds I mentioned, spaced apart from 4 to 8 inches. As they swell and start to grow in spring they are what we call shoots.Sometimes from one bud several shoots will emerge, and we will then remove all but the largest and healthiest.These shoots will then become canes. Each cane will have one to three clusters of grapes closer to the cordon and will continue growing vertically. You can now jump your eyes from photo 3 to photo 1 to imagine our newly pruned vine at the end of 2011 growing season.
This type of pruning method is called Cane pruning, This is one of two most common methods on The North Fork. The other method is called Spur pruning. The two methods can be used in the same field but only one would be selected as the average for the given variety or field.