Sheldon Haynie
January 22, 2013 | Vineyards | Sheldon Haynie

Zen Pruning

Vineyard care has many aspects, there's the relatively violent tasks of tilling and spraying, accompanied by the roaring of a diesel, the cameraderie of a picking crew, and the nearly silent handwork of pruning, leaf stripping and shoot thinning.

Pruning is a relatively solitary task, even if there is a team, as it requires focus, to select the cane, pick a site and make your cut. Given the capabilty of the electric pruners to cut the 12ga wire, you need to be looking for that and keeping fingers out of the way, even with the safety circuit and left hand conductive glove system. Thus its an ideal task for reflection, akin to raking a zen garden. You work at a pace that is comfortable, the limit more your ability to process the images and decide on cuts, than to move your limbs tp execute them. Its ideal for those of us who have variable attention focus, what the world may call ADD. Waving a kilogram of powered cutter around is enough to keep your attention, and the slow progress down the cordon coupled with the change from last years canes to the newly prepared vine is pleasing aesthetically.

Given a nice clear day with few scattered clouds, brilliant winter sky and crisp air its invigorating to the spirit, and time seems to flow by. With 15 acres to prune, and an average rate of 10 hours per acre thats a lot of opportunity for reflection. We've only just begun this year, and we have to time our efforts to avoid frost after budbreak, so after a few experimental acres at our big Cabernet Franc and Merlot Athena's vineyard, we will switch to the hillside at Soli Deo Gloria and work on the Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot there, as the frost risk is much less when the cold air can run off via gravity and not pool on the flat.



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