Crisp breezes freshen the air. Sunlight caresses grapes, making them glow. Plump with juice, the generous bunches pull toward earth. It's going to be a glorious harvest.
Ah, if it were only so easy. Before you drink the wine, you have to grow the vine, and annual pruning is an essential step to enjoying healthy, flavorful grapes at fall harvest.
"The first year we pruned, we were very nervous," said Doug Paul. He and his wife, Sharon, own and operate Three Sisters Vineyard and Winery in the north Georgia mountains. "Most beginning wine growers don't prune enough."
Pruning means cutting off canes, or branches, that could produce grapes. Giving up part of your crop is a hard thing for any gardener to do, but if you don't prune, the vines produce more grapes than they can fully support. By removing excess canes, you let the plant concentrate its energy in the selected canes, which ensures the grapes that are allowed to grow reach their optimal size and flavor. Removing damaged or diseased plant parts is another important function of pruning.
Next up, learn when to prune your vines.