Words from Armagnac: Pruning
Every story has its legend and the pruning of vines is no exception. According to the myth, the inventor of this wine-growing practice was none other than a donkey. In the fourth century, whilst monk Saint Martin was passing through the creeping vines of Abbey Marmoutier, he dozed off for a while. The donkey that was with him was well awake however and made the most of this moment to nibble on the vine shoots, just leaving the stems. A lucky accident as it seems the grapes from these vines that had been chewed back to nothing, gave the sweetest and most juicy grapes than the others from the vines left to grow wild. This is therefore how this technique came around and today it is for having a good harvest.
Pruning a vine is the work of an expert to which the winegrower succumbs to every winter after the growing season. The vine has its own agenda and the winegrower adapts to it: as soon as the month of November arrives, the sap goes back down to the roots and on the first days of December, the red and golden leaves fall to the ground. The vine then goes into its winter sleep and the buds stay dormant.
During this well-deserved rest, the winegrower grasps his secateurs and prepares for their waking by cutting them back. This work is key and determining as it makes it possible to limit too much vine growth, to reduce the number of buds and therefore bunches in order to ensure the good growth of grapes. The vines still dormant, change their appearance depending on the type of pruning be it long or short, Guyot or Cordon de Royat. In their quite naked state, they are then ready to let their buds come out.
The gentle glow of March arrives. The vine slowly wakes, its roots warm up and the sap starts to rise to the tip of the plant. A teardrop of sap weeps from the scar left by the pruned vine shoots but this tear is not one of sadness; on the contrary, it means that the vine is awake and it will only sleep again in eight months time.