Vines in winter: dormancy stage

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Vines in winter: dormancy stage

Winter is approaching and vines are in their dormancy stage. At this time of year, it may seem like activity in vineyards diminishes, but it’s the complete opposite. During the autumn and winter months, pruning is essential for a good future crop and to ensure the fruit is suitable.  For that reason, Condes de Albarei vine growers use hard work and dedication to carry out pruning tasks and guarantee the vines are healthy during their growing cycle. This is the start of the process, so working with thoroughness and professionalism is essential.

In this article, we explain the winter dormancy process and the importance of pruning vines in winter, as well as the work we do at Condes de Albarei at this time of year.

This is the winter dormancy stage of vines

After the harvesting period and with the arrival of autumn, the leaves start to change colour and turn golden and brown. During the months of October and November, the leaves start to fall until the vines are left completely bare. This is where the so-called winter dormancy stage begins. The vine’s physical activity is temporarily paused until spring, when the growth stage will begin. It is said that the vine is in vegetative dormancy.

During the rest or dormancy stage, regular pruning is carried out in order to guarantee the fruit’s quality and, therefore, the quality of our wines. Despite winter not being the vines best ally, it is an essential stage since the plant takes advantage of this season to regain strength and reserves of water, among other nutrients. It is one of the most relevant and significant stages of the vine’s life cycle.

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Pruning vines in winter

The winter pruning of vines consists of cutting the vine shoots or branches once they have no leaves, in other words, they are withered. That way, a series of fertile and growth buds are left on the outside that will lead to new shoot growth, and will give more bunches. This work requires a great deal of care, experience and professionalism, to know when to cut and why.

Pruning is essential for controlling the plant and its growth, as well as to keep it healthy. There are different types of pruning depending on the aims and type of vine; plantation, shaping, production, rejuvenating or exceptional, for climate reasons.

Why is pruning done in winter?

Pruning is done during winter months because it is the time when the plant has completed its growth cycle and the green branches have turned into wood. In addition, when it reaches this stage there is no longer an active presence of sap inside the vine.

The low temperatures in winter also influence the suitability of pruning at this time, since given it is colder, the risk of infections is lower and the likelihood of spread and development of pests is reduced. It is therefore essential to wait for these temperatures to arrive, so that in the days after the pruning, the cuts heal properly and don’t turn into outbreaks of infection. Hence, spring and summer temperatures are not recommended for pruning.

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Aspects to bear in mind while pruning vines in winter

This pruning is the most important of the year, so some important aspects should be considered to prevent the vines from becoming diseased. Firstly, pruning on dry days is recommended, with low temperatures, but without fog or rain, since humidity favours the emergence of these diseases. Secondly, you can add organic compost to the soil on a sporadic basis.

Pruning at Condes de Albarei

During this dormancy stage, Condes de Albarei carries out tasks of pruning, spending the necessary amount of time on each vine, as no two vines are the same. Each plant has its own characteristics; for example, on younger vines we look for ways to shape the plant, while with older vines, the aim is to control its growth and the quantity of fruit it will provide.

Here in the Salnés Valley, the temperatures are low in winter, so it is an advantage when it comes to preventing infections. However, the abundant rain can be a risk for our vineyards. In this context, Condes de Albare vine growers are very aware of the weather conditions and the communication between different departments, which will be crucial for making decisions during this dormancy stage and the other stages of the year.

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