This process is paramount to a perfect grape ripening
The grapevine is a liana, so if it is left to its own devices, it will grow excessively. This wild development will produce more wood than fruit, and the grape itself will become irregular and be of poor quality. This defect is corrected by pruning.
Pruning is the method to avoid a decrease in fruit quality. It consists of removing the shoots, some of them completely and others only partially. It is an essential task and must be carried out in a careful and organized fashion. A correct pruning determines not only the plant’s longevity but also the production quality. Therefore, controlling the process is absolutely crucial, firstly in order to harmonize production and vine vigour, and also to slow down the plant aging, while at the same time curbing its development within the appropriate space.
The number of buds in each vine determines the delicate balance of the plant vigour. Leaving too many buds will provoke excessive yields and consequently the grape won’t reach the necessary ripening. Alternatively, too severe a pruning will result in an excessive vigour, which contributes to the vine growth but also affects the grape ripening. Hence, achieving that right balance when pruning is a complicated but fundamental task in order to obtain fruits which will be able to reach a perfect state of ripening.
At Dehesa del Carrizal, the pruning work starts at the end of December and continue until the first few weeks of March. There are several pruning systems; each one is adequate for a different type of production. At Dehesa del Carrizal we employ the Cordon de Royat system. In this case the grapevines consist of an 80cm-high stem and two cordons or arms (all at the same level) where approximately eight shoots with two buds each are left on each arm. This system allows for a good distribution of production space and a low but reasonable yield, for it uses the buds on the base of the shoot formed the previous year, which has a low fertility. The pruned shoots are then crushed and left on the ground; eventually they will provide the soil with organic matter.
After the pruning process and before sprouting, the espalier structure is inspected. Sometimes it is necessary to replace some used posts with new ones, to change and tighten the wires, etc. It is also a highly important task as the structure must be solid enough to support the next season’s vegetation (shoots, leaves, bunches) while it ensures the even distribution of the canopy and the bunches in order to optimize the sun exposure and ventilation of the grape, two natural factors that guarantee a good fruit ripening.
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