Secateurs at the ready, it’s pruning time at Dedham Vale Vineyard.
Pruning is vitally important to maintaining healthy vines. The previous year’s growth is cut away to leave only young canes known as ‘arms’, and ‘spurs’, shoots with two buds. Removing the old wood encourages vigorous new growth, promoting the quality and quantity of the coming harvest. According to the vigour of the variety, between two and four canes are left on the vine. Secateurs can be dangerous tools in the wrong hands, and the most important rule of pruning is: don’t cut off any appendages…or Tilly’s tail!
Pruning takes place in January and February because the vines are dormant. The warm start to the winter has not been ideal, but hopefully we’ll see more frost in the coming months to allow the vines to conserve resources for spring growth. Each row takes approximately eight hours to prune and clear – it’s quite a daunting task! However, working methodically from one end of the vineyard to the other is a good opportunity to assess the health of the vines. This year, we are really pleased with the quality of the canes.
At the moment, we are on track to finish by the end of February. As we move across the site, we also carry out maintenance, replacing broken posts with new chestnut posts from our woodland, and fixing wires. Tying in of the vines will begin in April, when it’s back to the start to work through the vineyard again – rather like painting the Golden Gate bridge, but with the reward of fine English wine at the end!
Back at HQ, we’re busy planning this year’s season of events and weddings at the Vineyard – watch this space for more information. The Dedham Vale Vineyard shop is open, please phone ahead if you would like to visit, we appreciate any excuse to come in from the cold!