Spring in the Vineyard - Pruning

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It is often said that great wine is made in the vineyard.  For a winemaker, that means the vintage year starts long before any fruit is harvested in the fall.

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As we all know, seasons in Wisconsin vary greatly from year to year.  In the spring, there can be deep, heavy snow on the ground or temps can soar into the 70’s.  So far, the spring of 2018 has been more about snow than above average temperatures, but green grass is starting to peek through and warmer days are on the horizon.

Here at River Bend, pruning begins in early March and is finished by the end of April.  Each vine is pruned by hand, and it is now when the bud count is determined for the year.  Bud count is important because it determines the number of grape clusters that will be available to harvest in the fall.

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Each healthy bud will produce two clusters of grapes.  Depending on the age and health of the vines, we prune to between forty and eighty buds per plant.  That makes for easy math…forty buds mean eighty clusters per plant come harvest time.  Eighty buds mean one hundred sixty clusters per plant.  While that sounds like a tremendous amount, each cluster’s individual weight is relatively low.  As a rule, each plant in our vineyard produces between ten and twenty pounds of fruit per year.

Interested in learning more?  We’ll revisit the vineyard later this spring as pruning nears completion.  For next week, we’re heading back inside to see what’s happening in the wine cellar.