So pruning has already started in the old Chardonnay block at Sainte Rose. This is earlier than usual due to a very cold November and early December, which has meant that the vines moved into their period of dormancy quicker. The Chardonnay is always our starting point as these vines are the earliest to bud in the spring, the earliest to ripen and the first to be harvested. They are pruned in the Guyot style, which leaves one long branch that is trained back onto the fruit wire from which the new growth will sprout in 2013. This is the only block pruned in this style and has remained thus purely as it would have shocked the vines too much to change the style when we bought the Domaine in 2002. All the other varieties are pruned in the ‘Cordon Royat’ style, which has a branch on either side of the main trunk of the vine, thus forming a very balanced growing shape and form.
This first block to be pruned is labelled the 'old' Chardonnay as we planted 4 more hectares of Chardonnay earlier this year! That 'new' block of Chardonnay will also have to be pruned but it will be done last as it will not be producing a crop in 2013. Pruning new vines is a very different task to pruning established vines and it is very important as this first prune will create the main trunk of the vine that will be trained up to the fruiting wire and be the basis for the production of fruit. If left unpruned these vines would grow into bushes!
Ultimately the pruning process is made up of three ‘passes’ through the vineyards. The first pass is to cut all the new growth from the past year’s growth cycle. The second pass is to then pull all this wood off the trellising, leaving it in the centre of the rows between the vines to be broken up and to allow the organic matter to reintegrate into the soil. Finally the third pass is to reattach the one or two remaining branches (as described above) to the fruit wire. It is a lengthy process, especially when there are now 32 hectares at Sainte Rose now in production! See you in the Spring!