Pruning is a delicate and crucial task for the lives of our vineyards. It determines in great part the evolution of each vine with respect to its growth, health, form, and the quantity and quality of its grapes at harvest. The objective of pruning is to train vines to produce without excess, in order to concentrate the natural sugars and flavors in the summer, and evenly distribute the grapes on the vines so that they can take advantage of maximum space and ventilation in the foliage.
Slow and tedious work, pruning starts as soon as the leaves fall, and continues through the dormancy of the vines, until budbreak. Here in Costieres de Nimes that means from early November to March. What is a pleasant job under a bright winter sun becomes painful during damp, icy days or, even worse, when facing the freezing mistral winds.
In addition, the pruner needs to have a real know-how. At each vine, he (or she) has to take into account the varietal, its vigor, and the wine the parcel is destined to become. Upon reflection, vine by vine, the pruner will leave in place the number of buds necessary to obtain the ideal number of clusters on each branch of the vine.
In order to imagine the sheer scale of the task at hand, let’s do a little math exercise: there are, on average 5,000 vines per hectare, or 500,000 vines to be pruned at Château de Nages and Mas Molines combined. We leave 6 spurs (branch cuts) per vine for a total of approximately 3,000,000 cuts from a pair of shears (the truth is actually closer to twice that!).
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