Work in the vineyard at Griffin Hill starts earlier than you might expect. The rains (and a rare snow - see photo) keep equipment out of the vineyard due to safety concerns, plus the need to protect the soil from getting churned up and compacted. The work this time of the year is all done on foot. Now is the time to pre-prune. As you can see in the photo, we've cut the canes down to 12". The reasons for this action are twofold. First, this allows for us to more quickly do our final pruning; the benefit of which is we can wait longer and perhaps miss any late rains that could spread canker disease. Each cut that we make when we prune is a disease entry point. We spray wounds with a fungicide and seal the large ones, but the risk is there. That 12" that we leave is enough distance to make sure that although the disease surely finds the pre-pruning wounds, we cut off the part of the cane that may contain the (slow-moving) disease.
The second benefit of pre-pruning is to delay bud break. The act of pruning twice actually causes the vines to release their internal hydraulic pressure and causes a delay in budding. This small delay virtually always gets us past any spring frosts and avoids a crop loss due to frost damaged tender new growth and especially the flowers.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!