• Vanesa Ruiz Casuso

The Art of Pruning Grapevines

Dionysius invented the wine and gave it to Icarius, Greek citizen of Ikaria, to show him appreciation for having welcomed the God to his premises...and since then, men make wine and care of the wine trees, and the last is called, The Art of Pruning Grapevines.

Such a responsability!

Training vines to grow at the optimum height from the ground, and the regular pruning to strengthen the vine, were all practices well-known to the Greeks. Viticulture was a serious matter either for Greeks & Romans, who found in the alcoholic nectar of grapes an aphrodisiac, thus intoxicating elixir of Life.

Height from the ground and distance between vines will depend on local tempratures and winds. These aspects were already noticed by the ancient men of the Mediterranean. For us, new arrivals to Rvaši, it was difficult to know these important details. Hence, we were both surprised to find heavy snow in February as if we were still waking up in Finland! We also noticed that our vineyard is in a valley oriented North to South. When the North wind blows is quite strong and freezing.

As Febraury was about to be over, we could delay no more the winter pruning of our wine trees. A difficult matter, especiallly without knowing our vineyard, its strenghts and weakness, past year deseases or last year winter pruning.

We indeed soon noticed that the old wine shots -"sarmientos" (ES), "izboj loze" (ME) were quite high and that canes and cordons from different grapevines were messy with no space between them. Some trunks & cordons were quite low, even touching the ground while others have their trunk quite big and high instead.

In short, our 0.35 hectares of wine trees & its past life-events were completely unknown for us. And we were coping with their pruning and training with high responsability and a little bit of proud. My father always says: "allí donde fueres, haz lo que vieres" - "When in Rome, do as Romans". Althought (at least as far as we know) there is not regulation in Rvaši or Skadar Lake National Park or Cetinje Municipality about pruning and training vines) we easily noticed that our neighbour's vineyards were following a bilateral spur training system, with two cordons & a double gouyot.

Leading by this tradition, we had to take also some personal decisions regarding current conditions of our vineyard, local temperatures and North-South wind in Rvaši. So, while we were almost sure that the grapevines will face extreme heat in summer, we knew also that they will be exposed to high hunidity levels which could eventuallly promote grape diseases due to fungus.

Thus, we followed a simple strategy for this, our first year @rvasicottage vineyards: maximise transpirational cooling, minimize incoming radiation but without promoting an excesive shading & elevate trunks and cordons from ground floor.

I found something magical in pruning. You look at the vine and you try to understand its needs & wishes before pruning. And that is like an invitation to meditate about the sense of both, its and your own life.

We care about vines every day and week. We got ride of the dead branches and we healed their open wounds with copper. We also made beds of mulching for each one of the vines. Lets see what happens in the coming days. This is surely a post to be followed...:)

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