When we think of sustainability, it can mean many different things to different people. Environmental, socio-economic, financial. They all have their place but what is really important to a vineyard is the sustainability of the vines and their long-term future.
Pruning can make a huge difference to the longevity of a vine’s life and its architecture: its structure, branching and canopy. A few wrong cuts over time and the vine won’t be in a good way, the reason is that every cut will cause dieback, where the vine heals itself. Learning to prune is not a simple process, and even though most people will pick up the basics in a few hours it takes a lifetime to master.
Image: Dieback as a result of pruning wounds
As part of our commitment to the longevity of the Vineyard we are now moving our pruning to the Simonit & Sirch methodology, a technique developed in Italy and now practised in all the major wine regions around the world. Put simply it follows the flow of the vine, respecting the natural flow of sap, and not making it work too hard! It is based on the principle that a plant cannot have a long life if it is constantly wounded. For the lay person nothing will change when they look at the vine, they’ll look the same as they always did. But for those pruning, and the vines themselves we are making subtle but crucial changes.
Having built up a local workforce over the years we are in a lucky position where we can train our own staff in the technique instead of having a team come in that may not necessarily be pruning as we want. This is a problem that plagues Viticulturists and Vineyard Managers the world over, while they themselves know what they want and how to prune the fact of the matter is they can’t prune every vine themselves, they have to have faith in those doing the work. Luckily for us, David and Guy from our Vineyard team went on a course with the Simonit and Sirch trainers last month, having had the full training they have a great understanding of the methodology and are able to teach everyone else the technique.