HI, FRIENDS. COME SEE US DURING BROWSING HOURS. TUES TO FRI 2-6PM AND ALL DAY SAT/SUN. (STILL DOING PICKUP AND DELIVERY TOO.) HI, FRIENDS. COME SEE US DURING BROWSING HOURS. TUES TO FRI 2-6PM AND ALL DAY SAT/SUN. (STILL DOING PICKUP AND DELIVERY TOO.)

Spring Cleaning (and Poison Ivy) by Rebekah Pineda

Mar 19, 2021
There's still a crispness in the air, but the evenings are getting brighter. For most of us, this time of year means remembering you own a bike or staring bleary-eyed into the abyss of a well-worn winter closet, trying to find order. For the vigneron, late winter/early spring is one of the busiest times; pruning begins in February and finishes around the end of March (depending on who you ask). It is one of the most impactful and important moments of the year in wine production — everyone,  from the most conventional grower to the crunchiest biodynamic one, has to prune in order to produce wine. 
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There are several different styles of pruning. All can impact the canopy and yields, and are indications of place and sometimes even belief systems. Unlike the aimless chopping most of us inflict upon our backyard hydrangeas, great winemakers (who actually work the vines) make thoughtful decisions that impact the harvest with a few small cuts. #sapflow
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The history and traditions around pruning are too big to even glance over. Leaders in the field are still uncovering information and different approaches on pruning guides, like Oregon farmer Jessica Miller with her translation of seminal text Grapevine Pruning Manual for the Prevention of Trunk Disease by Francois Dal & the Sicavac. Her work enables new winemakers, like Bryn Molloy & Jeffrey Sherwood of Ellsworth wines (who we featured a few weeks back) to have a playbook for pruning decisions that prioritize vine age over yields. 
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If you are someone who has never worked in a vineyard, it can feel intimidating to approach the subject of pruning and really understand all the decisions and consequences.  At Domestique, we are here in service of the producers, but the reality is that most of us are not farmers. I struggled to grow succulents and snake plants in our temperature-controlled space (to be fair, it's really cold). Yes, it's easy to write about glou glou for picnics during spring (see below), but farming and agricultural traditions are complicated. It's worth the time to learn about them. We do winemakers, and especially growers, a disservice when we don’t discuss the value of their farming choices.  
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The idea of cutely connecting spring cleaning and pruning for this newsletter devolved into an internet black hole, a dozen unanswered emails, and rambling phone calls to West Coast friends. Like a curious, grouchy child stuck with the task of cleaning out the garden for spring, I once again feel like I am covered in poison ivy wondering what the eff happened. Still, I wanted to share some answers we got on the subject. Below, a Q&A with some of our favorite vignerons on perhaps their least favorite topic, pruning. 

see Conversations About Pruning, for Novices
  • Rebekah Pineda
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