Winterizing Your Vineyard: A Guide To Pruning And Care
What Is Winterization?
How Does It Work?
Why Should I Do It?
The Benefits Of Doing So!
Pruning Grapevines For Winter: What You Need To Know About Protecting Them From Frost!
Grapes are one of the most popular fruits grown in California. They provide a great source of nutrition for humans and animals alike. However, they require special care during cold weather. If not properly cared for, these delicious fruit could suffer from frost damage or even die due to lack of nutrients if left out too long.In order to protect your vineyards from frost damage, it is necessary to take steps such as winterizing them.
Winterization involves pruning and caring for your vines in order to keep them healthy and strong enough to withstand the harsh conditions of winter.Before we get into the details of winterizing our vineyards, let’s first understand what exactly is involved with it. There are two main types of pruning that need to be done; cutting back and spreading out. Cutting back means removing branches that are no longer needed for some reason. The spreading is pretty self-explanatory. You spread the vine in order to make it stronger and more resistant to elements such as frost. If you have just planted a new vineyard, then you need to spread the vines as much as possible without damaging them. After this, you should only do light pruning.When it comes to winterizing your vineyards, it is best to do this once or twice a year. How often you do it will depend on the age of the vineyard and other factors such as weather conditions. The best time to winterize your vineyard for the first time is after the harvest season is over. Pick a calm day, clear all the debris from your field, then spread your vines out and tie them down securely. After this, only perform light pruning except in special circumstances. It is best to avoid using pruning shears since they can damage the vines and encourage disease. Instead, use garden scissors or a pruning saw.You shouldn’t winterize your vineyards too often since it can damage them as well. If you live in an area that has mild winters, then you can probably winterize your vineyards after the 3rd or 4th year. If you live in an area with harsher winters, then you should wait longer. You need to decide on when to do this by using good judgment on whether winter is going to be mild or harsh. If you think it will be harsh, then you should winterize beforehand. If you live in an area that has mild winter weather and your vineyard is young, then you shouldn’t have to winterize at all!This next section is going to go over some of the steps involved in pruning and spreading out your vines without damaging them. This is just a general guideline to follow. There may be times when you have to deviate from it depending on the type of vines you grow and other factors such as weather conditions. If you are unsure about anything, refer to your nursery or do some research.The first thing you should do is prune your vines back in the spring after they bloom. Cut them back by a third to a half of their size. Once this is done, spread the vines out and fasten them to stakes and trellises. Don’t tie them up too tightly. They need to be able to flex a little bit since they will grow quite a bit over the summer months. After this, only perform light maintenance such as removing any diseased canes or suckers.Now that you know what to do in the long term, let’s go over when exactly to prune your vines. The way I organize my pruning is by season. Many people like to prune their vines right after they bloom in the spring. While this is a good time to do heavy maintenance and get rid of any suckers that may have grown during the year, it isn’t necessarily a good time to do heavy pruning. The reason for this is that pruning when the vines are wet from dew or just finished blooming can lead to disease.Another good time to do heavy maintenance and minor pruning is right before the autumn equinox. This way, you can cut back most of the vegetation and prune most of the suckers without risking dampness from dew or rain.One final good time to do maintenance on your vines is right after a frost or freeze. This is good because the vines are going to be easier to handle since they are more brittle and less likely to snap. This is a good time to check for disease as well since frost can kill off diseased parts of the vineyard.Now that you know when to prune your vines, let’s get into the techniques and materials you need. This is going to vary a lot depending on what type of vineyard you have, but there are some basic materials and tools you should have around no matter what types of vines you grow. Obviously, a good pair of hand shears or clippers is necessary. I also like to keep a small saw handy for major pruning. Many of the tools you should already have if you own your own house. Here are some additional tools you might need, depending on what types of vines you grow:Many types of vineyards can be grown in all different types of soils, but there are a few basics that are vital for all vineyards regardless of type or soil composition. For one, you need good drainage. Most types of vines, especially the tendril types, don’t like to have wet feet for long periods of time. Dampness is fine, but standing water will threaten the health of your vines.The second vital thing for all vineyards is sunlight. Most grapes need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day to be able to fully ripen their fruit. You can find out if you’re getting enough sunlight by using the shadow rule. Place your tallest vine stake in your vineyard. Now draw a straight line outward from that stake and place another stake on that line where the line intersects with another object, such as a tree or shed. Mark both stakes with something easy to see from a distance. Do this at several different places throughout your vineyard. Now go back to your first stake and see how far away the marks are from that stake. If they are less than a shadow length away from the stake, you’re good to go. Most types of grapes need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day.The third vital thing for all vineyards is air flow. Air flow allows your vineyard to stay healthy by drying out the soil and foliage after rains. It also helps to keep down disease and pests that like to attack moist areas. There are a few ways to increase air flow. The first is to plant your vineyard on a hill, if possible. This allows the air to flow up and through the vines. This works especially well if you’re growing a trellised vine such as Concord because the added height from the hill adds more air above the vines. The second way is to plant your vineyard on the eastern side of a hill. The eastern side of most hills tends to get less sun than the western side, so your vines will still get enough sun, but they’ll get more airflow because the hill is blocking some of the sun.Trellises are not a necessity, but they can be very helpful. Here are a couple of different types of trellises you can build or buy for your vineyard:The use of wires strung between posts to train the vines up is probably the most common way to grow grapes. The type of wire used varies from one that is very soft and easily bent by the vine to one that is stiff and holds it’s shape. The benefit to this type of trellis is that it can be placed fairly close together. This allows for the maximum amount of grapes to be produced with the least amount of land needed. The down side is that it can be more time consuming and expensive to put up. This type of trellis works best for the fan types of grapes.The use of stakes to hold the vines up is probably the second most common way to grow vines. The type of stake used varies from wood to metal and from straight to curled top. The benefit to this type of trellis is that they’re fairly cheap and easy to put in. The down side is that they take up a lot of room, so you can’t plant as many vines per plot of land. It also takes more time and effort to keep the vines pruned and tied to the stakes. This type of trellis works best for the cordon types of grapes.The use of arbors (pergola) to train the vines on is not as common, but does have it’s benefits. The biggest benefit is that it provides a shaded place for you to sit and relax in the middle of the vineyard. The vine leaves overhead will provide shade most of the day, but they’ll still allow sunlight to pass through so the grapes get direct sunlight. The natural shade from the vine leaves also keeps the ground underneath fairly cool on hot days. Since they’re usually placed near the house, arbors also makes a nice entrance to your property.The downside to arbors is that they take up a lot of room. If you only have a small area for your vineyard, you may want to consider something else. The other drawback is upkeep. Since vines need pruned and tied up, arbors tend to be a little more work than the other types of trellises. Arbors also are usually placed fairly close together and cost a bit more money, so they take up more room than stakes or fan types of trellises.In the St. Helena area, you can use either the Geneva double Curtain or the Henry planting methods. Both of these have been proven to produce excellent results and you can’t go wrong with either one. If you’re interested in learning more about these two methods, there’s plenty of information available online and at your local library.If you’re using stakes, it’s best to get the longest ones you can find. The longer the stake, the more spread out the leaves will be giving your grapes more room to grow. You should also make sure that they’re not all planted in one straight line. It’s best to space them out in a zigzag pattern. This allows for better air flow and helps prevent disease and rot.When you’re planting your vines, you need to be sure that the rows are either East-West or North-South and the plants are spaced 6 feet apart in the row.Now is also a good time to start pruning your grapes back and keeping them tied to their stakes. Your local nursery personnel can show you how far to prune your vines and how to tie them up. You can also get books from your local library or do an internet search for instructions on proper pruning techniques. It’s best to prune your vines every year to keep them the size you want them to be. If you don’t keep them pruned and tied up on their stakes, they’ll quickly grow out of control taking over the entire plot of land and become unmanageable. It’s also important to keep the vines free of weeds regularly.Every couple of weeks during the growing season, give each vine a gentle tug to make sure that the vine is firmly attached to the stake. If it feels like it’s going to come out of the ground, put a few stakes around it to keep it from spiraling around the stake. Always water your vines daily. The amount of water they need will depend on rainfall and how much sun they get. A good general rule is if the soil is dry an inch or two down, then they need to be watered. You can also use a moisture meter to determine if the vine needs water.
Stuck on what type of grapes to plant?
There are more than 1500 varieties of grapes out there to choose from. If you live in a colder climate, you’ll probably be limited to hardy varieties that can withstand the cold winters. If you live in a milder climate, you’ll have a wide selection to choose from depending on how hot it gets in the summer and whether or not your region gets frost in the spring and fall.In most cases, you should plant what’s known as “cold hardy” varieties if you live in an area that gets frost. These are grapes that are native to your area or known to withstand colder temperatures. European grapes such as Thompson Seedless, Emperor and Muscat Canelli are some of the hardy varieties that can do well in colder climates. Some other varieties that can work well are Flame, Cardinal and Perlette.”Heat lovers” are the type of grapes you should plant if you live in an area that gets very hot in the summer. These include varieties such as Flame, Cardinal and Thompson seedless. There are also some less well-known varieties such as Indigo, Junaluska and Isabella that do well in hotter weather.Of course no matter what the climate is where you live, you’re always going to have weeds growing with your grapes. You can spend a lot of money on herbicides, but the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to get rid of weeds is to hand pull them when you see them. Also, do your best to mulch around the base of the plants so that sunlight can’t reach the soil. This will prevent weed seeds in the soil from sprouting.If you don’t want to get into making your own wine immediately, there are many places where you can purchase it already made. Most grocery stores have a selection of wine that can be purchased by the bottle or even by the single glass. These are great if you just want to try a few different kinds to see what you like or don’t like.If you want to go bigger, most towns and cities have local wineries where you can tour the facilities and then sample whatever you like. A lot of these places also have gift shops where you can buy bottles of the wine to take home with you. For a more interesting experience, sign up for a tour at a local vineyard and bring your own bottle to drink while you’re there.Holidays are an excellent time to enjoy your home made wine. Most of the holidays in the United States have some sort of food or drink tradition associated with it. For example, on Independence Day the tradition is to have fireworks and BBQ. During the fall, many people have traditions such as going apple picking or making apple pie. Celebrating these holidays with home made wine can make the experience more memorable.A good cookbook can be invaluable if you like to experiment with recipes and cooking. There are thousands of different recipes for wines from all over the world. You can even find recipes for making your own mead, a fermented drink made from honey.So now that you’ve learned a bit about wine, go out and make some of your own. Get creative and have fun with it. You never know, you might end up creating the next great wine that everybody talks about.
One of the first things that you should always do is buy a good cookbook on making wine. There are many different recipes and methods of creating wine so having a good guide can save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.One of the most important things you’re going to need is good equipment. You need to make sure you have the right type of containers in which to mix and store your wine. You’ll also need a way to seal these containers so that the wine doesn’t come into contact with oxygen until it’s ready.One of the most useful things you can have is a corking device.
This device uses high pressure to shove corks into the mouth of your wine bottles and makes sealing them much easier.When you’re ready to bottle your wine, you can use regular wine bottles and cork them with regular corks. If you’re making a sweet wine, you can also buy sweet wine bottles or buy real glass beer bottles from a brewery and use those instead.You should also consider buying capsules for the tops of the bottles that will help protect them from moisture and dirt.You can also choose to store your wine in different containers such as carboys and demijohns. These can also be sealed with a plastic device called an air lock. The air lock will let gas out of the container (to prevent explosions) but it won’t let any more air (or insects) into the container.You should also get some small filters to go over the mouth of the containers. These come in handy when you’re pouring wine because they help strain out Pieces of leaves and other things that could get into the wine and spoil it.You should probably also get some “vinol” or “finefil”. These products are mixed with water to sanitize the equipment that will be used to make the wine. Most recipes call for about a tablespoon per gallon of wine but read your recipe to make sure. You can also use these to sanitize any other equipment that will come into contact with the wine while it’s fermenting such as spoons and funnels.Once you’ve got everything gathered up, read your recipe and follow it exactly. It probably won’t call for additional sugar or honey to be added but you can add those things if you want. If the wine turns out particularly good, write down exactly what quantities were used so that you’ll have a good starting point for next time. And there WILL be a next time!Wine is a great hobby and there’s a lot of fun to be had with it. There are tons of different recipes out there that you can try so don’t get discouraged if your first batch doesn’t turn out quite right. Just keep at it and, in time, you’ll be winning lots of rave reviews!
Sources & references used in this article:
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Freezing tolerance and injury in grapevines by A Fennell – Journal of Crop Improvement, 2004 – Taylor & Francis
Vector Transmission of Xylella fastidiosa to Dormant Grape by RPP Almeida, C Wistrom, BL Hill, J Hashim… – Plant …, 2005 – Am Phytopath Society
Biological traits of Xylella fastidiosa strains from grapes and almonds by RPP Almeida, AH Purcell – Applied and Environmental …, 2003 – Am Soc Microbiol
Comparison of different soil-burry methods on the over-wintering of wine grape cultivars in Ningxia Autonomous Region by Y Zhang, J Ping, W WANG, Z SUN… – Journal of Fruit …, 2007 – en.cnki.com.cn
Influence of defoliation on overwintering carbohydrate reserves, return bloom, and yield of mature Chardonnay grapevines by J Bennett, P Jarvis, GL Creasy… – American Journal of …, 2005 – Am Soc Enol Viticulture
Cryo-scanning electron microscopy reveals that supercooling of overwintering buds of freezing-resistant interspecific hybrid grape ‘Yamasachi’is accompanied by … by J Kasuga, Y Tsumura, D Kondoh, Y Jitsuyama… – Journal of Plant …, 2020 – Elsevier
Cultural control of the grape berry moth by GW Still – 1949 – books.google.com