Wednesday, December 8, 1999
Dave has finally pulled me back into writing for the wine diary. After a brief lull in activity at the winery we are back in action again with lots of field work to do. Primarily, we have started pruning our vines. Our loyal vineyard crew started pruning our old vine Zin/Carignan/Petite Sirah on Monday. Today, after wrapping up some general clean-up, I joined the crew to assist in pruning. This slightly unusual fact was made downright amazing by the fact that I managed to drag Dave with me and he was wearing PANTS! (For those of you who don't know Dave well, it is almost unheard of for Dave to wear anything but shorts and sandals)
Dave was kind enough to come with me because although I generally know how to prune, I am greatly out of practice. Also, Dave can be picky and I wanted to make sure I got it right. Once Dave walked me through the basics I was off and pruning. Dave went back to the office.
I actually kind of miss pruning. Although it is freezing in the morning (literally around 30-35 degrees) once it warms up a couple of degrees it is kind of nice. Also, the vineyard and Dry Creek Valley are absolutely beautiful this time of year (heck, it's beautiful year round but it is a lot greener now). It's hard work but in my opinion beats the heck out of a cubicle.
The most intimidating thing about pruning is that the size and quality
of your entire crop next year (and therefore the amount and quality of
wine you will make) is dependent on what you decide to cut off and what
you decide to leave. You also only get one chance a year to get it
right, if you screw up you have to wait another year to try and do it again.
Luckily, once you understand your vineyard and how the vines grow, you
can get the job done at a decent pace. What I find impressive is that Dave
used to prune our entire property (20 acres and thousands of vines) by
himself. I am working with 4 other workers and even though we prune at
a good pace it still takes us a long time to prune even individual blocks.