The winter months vineyard offers up images of row upon row of bare trunks. This is the time of the year when the grapevine shakes off the previous vintage, shedding its leaves and settles in for a brief rest. During this period, the grapevine is a trunk without buds or vegetative growth. This naked rest is designed and ultimately crucial for grapevine survival amidst low temperatures and adverse weather conditions.
Life in Dormancy
When grapevines are fully devoid of vegetation, otherwise referred to as “dormant”, during the coldest part of midwinter, buds are isolated from the plant's vascular system, desiccated, and filled with compounds that resist freezing.
The vines are consequently pruned throughout these months to prepare them for shoot and fruit growth once spring arrives. This stage is crucial in ensuring fruit quality, because every vine requires individual care. On the Curtis Estate Vineyard, we employ a pruning method known as spur pruning on our varietals – with the exception of Sauvignon Blanc.
Spur pruning is done on vines that retain one or two pairs of long canes (a permanent cordon) trained along a trellis system. New canes that have grown along the permanent cordon are cut back to a small shoot containing two buds, known as a spur. In spring, new growth develops from the buds on the spur. It is this bud development that signifies the awakening - the tell-tale sign that the grapevine is emerging from dormancy.
It takes both increasing temperature and tissue wetting for bud break and shoot emergence to occur. When growth starts in the spring, towards the middle of March, the grapevine awakens, sap begins to stir and sets on course to re-establish the vascular connections between its buds and roots. As warm temperatures in the spring increase and buds are rehydrated, they gradually deacclimate and become less resistant to cold temperature. As temperatures rise above freezing, temperature-dependent enzymes begin to activate. As soils warm, so does the increasing hydration of buds. As buds swell, they initiate new vascular connections at their attachments to the canes.
In early Spring (April), as the temperatures rise, the Curtis Estate is prepared for the grapevines emergence from sleep. Rows are plowed down and cleared of weeds. Trellises are maintained. Canes are tied and selected for production of new shoots and clusters. It is at this point in the
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