While many of us are still hoping to get through the cold Cleveland weather, the vineyards around northeast Ohio have another focus – the months of warmer temperatures that will be here soon. (Yes, I promise warmer weather will be here at some point…)
To best help the vines prepare for Spring, we usually use the month of February to start pruning the vines. Because this month is usually the turning point in winter temperatures the dormant vines will be pruned allowing them to start growing in the next couple of months. Once the weather warms up to about 45 degrees (my personal threshold of being outside) we will start to prune most of last year’s growth so the vine can produce new shoots and leaves once spring arrives. Since grapes only grow on new one year old canes it is important that about 85% of the canes are pruned.
Another benefit to pruning in February is the harshest part of winter is usually coming to an end so the cut canes will not suffer from too many weather changes. Although recognizing where we live and knowing that we have seen snow in May in some years, we are very picky about the timing of pruning the vines as well. This year will be one of those years that we may wait a while to ensure we are out of any more polar vortex situations. However if the weather finally starts to turn in the next couple of weeks, pruning in February into early March allows us to shape the future growth of the vine by having more room to tie the vine to the trellis. Come summertime when the vine is in full bloom it is much more difficult to shape on the trellis.
Besides being outside in colder temperatures, pruning is actually quite easy and stress relieving. All you need is a few pairs of pruning shears and very heavy (and warm) gloves. Then with careful review of the vine, the cane is cut and collected in bunches. Once the vineyard is pruned, all of the pruned canes are saved for summer bonfires or in some cases, can be planted again for new vines to start growing.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more gift ideas or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com.