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Vineyard Owner Explains: ‘Why We Prune the Vines’

Since 2003, Matthiasson Wines has been producing high-quality wines in the Napa region. In a recent newsletter, the Matthiasson's explained how they prune their vineyards:

Why do we prune? Because if the vine is not pruned it reverts very quickly to its wild nature, climbing everywhere with its long, sinewy trunk and tiny, scraggly bunches of uneven grapes. Every year we need to assess the growth of the vines, and decide whether to prune them back harder, or to let them grow a bit bigger, or return them to the same size and shape they were the year before.

Part of the pleasure of pruning is that it is pure craftsmanship, like woodworking or ceramics, a blending of form and vision, assessing the vine’s growth and adjusting the pruning cuts to its individual differences. It’s also a tactile relationship with nature, the living vines that could easily grow wild guided by our hands to line up in vineyard rows ready to bear another crop of wine grapes for our pleasure and nourishment.

If we prune correctly the vine will be balanced. That means it will grow just enough. If it grows too much, the resulting wines will be thin and simple. If it grows too little, the wine will be bitter and hard. The right amount of growth — what we call “balanced growth” — results in balanced wines that are delicious and show the terroir (environmental factors).

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