Understanding the power of pruning and its timing from our Viticulturist, Heath Payne
As above, so below’, a phrase that invokes both a sense of contemplation and observation. With what feels like winter finally settling into the Willamette Valley, we turn our attention to the annual practice of pruning our vines. Pruning is the single most important practice that we perform in the vineyard every year. The decisions the pruner makes dramatically affects the potential of the current season while also setting the stage for next year. With the purpose of pruning being to obtain maximum yields of high quality grapes and to allow vegetative growth for the following season, it is truly a long-term endeavor that demands a lot of work, patience, planning, and observation before seeing the results.
Prune verb 1: to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth
The timing of pruning is also paramount, not just the act itself. For humans and plants alike, the seasons and the lunar cycles play certain roles to our actions. The spring and summer are alive and active when the sun calls us to attention, to look outside ourselves. The fall and winter promote decay, sleep and renewal, as the appearance of the moon draws us inward, to rest. Within the seasons the moon plays an important role in the vitality of the vines.
The cycle is linked with the ascending* moon and descending** moon. Under the ascending moon leaf growth is reduced and fruit quality is enhanced. An outward expression that culminates during our harvest. However, during the descending moon the sap stays closest to the roots, an inward expression that is seen as the leaves fall and vines come to rest. It is while nature sleeps and the descending moon that we make the decisions for the upcoming harvest and beyond. Paying attention to the lunar cycle helps us address this idea, working more harmoniously with nature.
*Ascending moon: When the moon moves from the lowest point to the highest point. **Descending moon: Inversely, when the moon moves from the lowest point in the sky to the highest point.