The Notebook

A Morning of Pruning – March 2016

A Morning of Pruning – March 2016

As Operations Assistant at Hambledon Vineyard, my day to day roles lie within the office, seeing to administrative duties, emails, marketing and assisting our events manager with planning and promoting upcoming events at the Vineyard. Therefore, when Peter our Vineyard Manger offered me the chance to spend a morning with him in the vineyard, to lend a hand with the team pruning the vines, I was excited at the prospect of seeing how it’s all done. Luckily for me, it was an early Spring morning and the weather was beautiful – cheerfully sunny and warm. I was handed a pair of pruning shears and took the walk up to the top row of vines.

It is here I met with Peter, where he began explaining to me how we would initially look for a precise bud count, to allow us to acknowledge how much we should trim from the vines.
I learned that this pruning process was in fact stage two. After primary pruning (first prune) and before the fruiting canes are tied down, Pete and the Vineyard team are in charge of the second prune. This acts as a basis for quality control to ensure we don't stress the vines and they provide an optimum amount of fruit for the vineyard. This is ultimately creating a balanced vineyard of which our wine becomes an expression of our terroir. Pete explained to me there were over 100 thousand vines, all of which are harvested, pruned and tied down individually, by hand. I was amazed, as after 2 hours out working in the vineyard, I had only completed two rows!

On our walk up and down the vines, carefully pruning each cane and Peter pointing out to me exactly what I was looking for, we came across lots of ladybirds, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time on one vine. Ladybirds are voracious eaters of greenfly (Aphids), and are friends of ours. Ladybirds are incredibly useful to the vineyard as they love eating the greenfly that try and eat away at the plant, this is why they are sometimes known as plant lice and known to us as pests of the vines!

After meeting with the rest of the Vineyard team, and watching them prune sections of the vines, I had a go at it myself for a few hours. It was difficult to know exactly what to look for at first, and which part of the vine I should be cutting, but by the end of the morning, after lots of guidance, I felt confident enough to know exactly what to look for.

Overall, it was a wonderful morning of education for me, and it was great to be outside amongst the vines. In the future I hope to join in with more of the vineyard processes, such as bottling and harvest, to further expand my knowledge!