The poetry hidden behind pruning

It’s winter; the time has come. The vine is asleep; all energy is directed towards the roots and the life is mainly found in the soil.

The most intimate contact between man and nature occurs during pruning. Observe, breathe, walk around and sense, above all sense. Before we prune, we must first study the vineyard, but most importantly, we must love it.

Pruning is to the vine what a new building is to an architect. The first steps at the beginning of the year; the beginning of the process of the life cycle of our vines, the most significant decision in the cycle of the vineyard; choosing which wine we want to create from each plot, where it all begins.

It is one of the tasks carried out with the utmost respect, attention, sensitivity and one that requires the most experience and wisdom. All the work which takes place throughout the year is important, but pruning is probably the most relevant, since the quality and the quantity of the grape and the wine that will be obtained later depends on how well it is performed.

Pruning is carried out during the winter rest period of the vine, between the first frosts of November and the beginning of March. It consists in cutting off shoots from the vine since in its natural state, the vineyard is a climbing plant; the branches, called shoots, can be as long as 30 metres. It is a meticulous task and one for experts.

During the pruning, the mark of the winegrower and his traditional manual labour is key; it is a task that aims to maintain the structure of the vine, ensuring its quality and productive life, and also avoiding an unnecessary ageing in wood – large wounds where bacterial or fungicide disease can get in will never be made.

The pruners know very well that the art of pruning is applied in one form or another depending on the variety of the grape. However, this art cannot be done on a daily basis. It involves working patiently with the moon, the sun, the stars and the planets.  They exercise a force on the Earth, on people, plants and animals and our best wine is produced when the entire ecosystem is in tune with these influences.

Therefore, we work according to Maria Thun’s biodynamic calendar, which states that the best days for pruning the vines are fruit days during a descending moon (days on which the moon is at the furthest point from the Earth and is coming closer). We always prune during a descending moon to protect the plant from pruning wounds and because of the influence this has on the vine, pushing the sap towards the roots.

According to the same calendar, the Zodiac is the band of constellations through which the moon and the plants pass. As they pass through, forces are activated which have an influence on the Earth and are seen in the four classical elements: earth, water, air and fire. These forces activate the ‘fruiting’ to the four organs of the plant: root, leaf, flower and fruit.

If we work on a fruit day, for example, our work will be more favourable to that part of the plant; in our case, the grapes. That is why, on our estate, we usually work on these days. Another very significant aspect is that we adapt the pruning according to the requirements of each plot. The most emblematic and balanced plots such as Clos del Serral, the Vinya del Mas and the Noguer, are pruned on a fruit day; those that need more vigour on leaf days; the youngest ones: The Plana, Cementeri and The Barberas, on a flower day to achieve a better aromaticity and those where we are looking for the maximum expression of the terroir, such as the Vinya del Fóssils, on a root day.

In this very manual process, our Breton horse, Bru, can also be sure that he will be put to work. With his help we take away the excess pruning shoots, so they can be ground up and put back into the vineyard, once converted into organic matter which, over time, will decompose to become a nutrient for the soil and the plants, providing vitality and energy.

If everything has been done well, after a few months, the vine which seemed to have gone to sleep forever, will begin to show the first evidence of life: the vine will weep, as temperatures rise, the sap will move up and come out through the pruning wounds. The circle closes, returning to where it belongs.

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