Pruning in 2023
March WAs a superb month, with spring just around the corner, and the days becoming longer, pruning season is coming to an end…
Our fantastic and resilient vineyard team have been out in all weathers throughout the winter months, pruning each vine delicately by hand. Pruning is essential for healthy growth and lifespan of our vines – which ultimately helps to maintain the quantity and quality of the bunches. By providing the vine with a stable direction, this annual operation supports the longevity of the vine and therefore sustainability of our vineyards.
We spoke with Travis Salisbury, Wiston’s Vineyard Manager, to discuss the pruning journey so far. “The whole system of viticulture is changing. England has been adapting for the last 20 years – Varieties, trellis and experience are just a few aspects that have changed and are continuing to adapt. The more research that’s been ploughed into the industry, the higher quality in terms of vine health is being promoted.”
Travis and his team began pruning in mid-December 2022 – with a pre-prune in January, and plan to complete this lengthy and thoughtful process in mid-March. Wiston Estate encompasses 43,186 vines, to which our small team of five have carefully managed throughout the season.
With Wiston’s focus on achieving a healthy and thriving vineyard, the team have become innovative in the pruning process. In previous years, the usual procedure is to cut the vines, then pull out the discarded wood afterwards. Travis discussed the new approach they took this year with a ‘pre-prune’.
“The pre-prune method is commonly used throughout vineyards in South Africa – removing the unwanted wood first, including all the canes tied to the wires. This gives a cleaner sheet for the team to work with rather than the canes spread all over. This also allows us to prune later in the season where there is less rain – meaning less risk of fungal infections to the vines.”
As well as the pre-prune, Travis also discusses the method of pruning they opted for this year.
“Previously we have used the ‘Crown pruning’ technique, which allows lots of big cuts – especially to old wood where you get desiccations. These desiccations don’t allow the sap to move as effectively, so we now use the gentle pruning methods where you are only respecting the vines vascular flow, reducing cut sizes, leaving protective wood on old cuts, as well as its natural ability to branch.”
With our new Vineyard on North Farm Valley, planted in May last year, the pruning process has been varied for some of the vines across the estate.
“Because it’s the first year of planting, we’ve brought the new site back to two buds. This will help concentrate all the carbohydrates which will be beneficial the following season – allowing it a better chance to develop a single trunk.”
Despite last year bring a very difficult year for establishing a vineyard – with the summer heat and drought, only 3% of these vines succumbed. This is a testament to Wiston’s diverse soil and good vineyard management. Along with this, the adoption of these pruning methods is part of Wiston’s continued commitment to producing high quality grapes and maintaining our vines’ long-term health.