Pruning for Quality

Printed in the Yakima Herald Republic, February 21, 2019

In wine country, winter is the time for vineyards to recharge while waiting for the cold nights to get shorter and warmer weather to arrive.

It is also the time of year when pruning, one of the most important steps in vineyard management, takes place. Like winemaking, grapevine pruning is part science and part art. Doing it well has a greater influence on the yield and quality of the grape than any other viticultural practice.

“Grapevines grow their ‘hair’ to hippie-like length throughout the growing season,” says Todd Newhouse, co-owner of Upland Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. “During late winter, we give the vines a buzz cut, taking between 95 and 99 percent of the previous year’s growth off the vine.”

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