Sculpting Vines: The Art of Pruning

Harvest is often the focus of discussions of grape growing and winemaking. But what happens in the vineyard  during winter when the vines are leafless, is crucial both for shaping the canopy that forms in spring and the grape clusters that hang on the vine until they are pressed at the winery—and the long-term life of the vine.

Winter is where the art of pruning comes in. For Mark Pisoni, the family’s farmer, pruning is a time of possibility—a time to start the new year off well, and to make sure the vines are in the best position to dig their roots down deep and grow their canopy in spring. This process cannot be done by machine. Rather, each vine is assessed on its own by a member of the vineyard team, all of whom are experts at this activity. “Every cut is critical and permanent. It truly takes an individual eye,” Mark explains. Individual pruning decisions can impact the vine for years to come—as incorrect pruning can take years to remedy.

Follow the team as they work in the vineyard Gary Pisoni planted four decades earlier to set the stage for the rest of the growing season. Get a glance, too, of Gary and his sons as they walk past the scroll work of leafless vines set off beautifully by the jade green of the flourishing cover crop beneath them.