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Unsung heroes of the vineyards

The Unsung Heroes of the Vineyards

Hi,  a  month has passed since the harvest and inside the wineries the juice from the crushed grapes is busily fermenting to become wine.  Meanwhile, outside in the vineyards the leaves have fallen and the vines look naked and scraggy.  This month’s newsletter is about the unsung heroes in the wine world, the Pruners.   A good crew of pruners is always in demand and have guaranteed work year after year.  They lead a nomadic life moving from vineyard to vineyard, region to region,  pruning vines in preparation for the Spring when the buds burst and the Circle of Life continues.

I joined Juan and his crew of pruners in Utiel, Valencia, in the vineyards of Bodegas Nodus which has 200ha. of ecological wines.   This crew are from Seville and every November they travel to Utiel for 8 weeks during which time they will prune 400,000 vines!! prior to moving on their next assignment in La Mancha.

Vineyards tend to be in areas where the climate is continental, that is to say extremes of heat and cold, inhospitable places to be during a hard winter.  The pruners work in bleak conditions, it is bitingly cold, windy and the days are short so they work fast and hard to get the most out of the hours of sunlight.

In the video, sorry only in Spanish, you can see Juan at work.  He and his crew work steadily and in a constant flow up and down the rows of vines clipping, cutting and pulling away the old wood with their mechanical clippers. Each plant is slightly different so the pruners have to evaluate quickly which part of the old wood has to be cut away to make way for the new.  Vines naturally grow upwards so in order to maintain their shape on the trellised frames it is necessary to prune the plant in a way that encourages it to grow sideways so that come next summer the bunches of grapes will be well distributed to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight.  The excess stems are cut away and only two stems are generally left one for the new vintage with 3 or 4 buds and one short for the following vintage.  Once pruned the plant will be dormant until the spring.

So when you open a bottle of  your Autumn Selection, spare a thought for the Pruners.

Salud!

Mark

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I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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