Winter in the vineyard: winter pruning

The scent and warmth of a lit fireplace, a glass of Brunello di Montalcino and a cozy armchair, this is a Carpineto winter. These colder months almost seem like Nature withdraws into itself and everything around us appears dormant. It is time to slowly savor the fruit of our work: what better way than to open a bottle of wine from our cellar. And offer it to those that want to learn the many wonders that Tuscany has to offer.

It is indeed nice to indulge in a pleasant otium, a Latin term for leisure time, in the company of a chalice and a crackling fireplace. But know that this does not mean that winemakers are resting for long– far from it.

This is one of the most important winemaking periods of the year. In the vineyard and in the cellar the work never ends, even in the Winter when the world seems to stop and breathe for a few moments. The coldest months, from January to the beginnings of Spring, are months dedicated to pruning the vineyards. This is the period in which the branches appear bare and dormant. But in reality, the next reproductive cycle is just around the corner with Spring blooms and summer berries a few short months away. This is the miracle of Nature that is renewed from year to year and allows Carpineto to offer you wines of only the highest quality.

Let’s go back to January, to our scent of the fireplace and to the resting vineyards. This is the period for winter pruning, carried out when the plant is bare of leaves. The first objective is to re-establish the vineyard in terms of productivity. So that the vine can generate new shoots from the buds that are renewed from year to year. The pruning work identifies portions of existing branches that act as support to the main branches that will bear fruit in the warmer months, and of course to identify those that will not be of support.

Winter pruning is absolutely vital to a healthy harvest as it allows the plant to constantly thrive, year after year. Pruning ensures a constant balance between quantity and quality of grapes produced. Note that we are not talking about a mathematical phenomenon – there are many factors that can still influence the subsequent harvest and it does not all rely on pruning. The climate is yet another factor – possible frosts, periods of drought, rain and so on. Not even the most skilled of agronomists, oenologists and climatologists can predict with certainty – so soon into January – how the vintage will go. But what is certain is that a correctly carried out pruning predisposes the vine to a yield – in terms of quality and quantity – in line with the expectations of the period. That is the mathematical element – preparation.

At Carpineto, winter pruning is assessed according to extremely precise and rigorous criteria. More precisely, in terms of our finest vineyards, pruning predisposes the vineyards to a quantitative yield of about 2 pounds of grapes per plant, the equivalent of one bottle per vine. Given this, it is already possible in this phase to define production criteria which are dictated by the maximum yield in terms of grape quality.

For this reason, when we talk about wine and vineyards, we must never underestimate any one step nor should we rest for too long. The vine is a living organism, and as such it needs constant care and processes that are always respectful of its life cycle. Winter is a period to ensure the reproduction of vines as well as ensure they are protected from further risk factors, such as rainwater or frosts. Pruning is the first of many steps towards a path which slowly, and literally, allow us to see the fruit of our labor.