Winter, the ideal time to pamper the vineyard
Between December and January, wine growers prune their vines. Stocks are in their dormant phase, which means they can be looked after without injuring them. Pruning is an essential part of vine maintenance, which as we all know, is a climbing plant!
Left to its own devices, it would just naturally keep growing outwards. Pruning consists of reducing the number of shoots, to control the production and vigour of the plant by limiting the number of buds.
In winter, it is also necessary to earth up the rootstocks, to protect them from frost. This is done by raking the earth up around the plant to form small mounds. The further north the plant is, the more earthing up is required.
Pruning, a delicate task
This is a lengthy task and can last for weeks and even months (between December and March). Care and precision are essential in this job, which can only be performed by human beings, not machines. Careful pruning helps to limit the risk of fungal infection, without injuring the stocks.
The pruning technique commonly used in the Rhône Valley is known as the "goblet" technique (the vine is given a flared shape with 4 branches raised skywards).
"For Vacqueyras or Gigondas wines, we favour short pruning (goblet or cordon, depending on grape varieties," explains Antoine Dupré, in charge of the winery's vineyards. This type of pruning technique makes it easier to look after the vines on a daily basis and ensure that grapes are well ventilated
Meanwhile in the cellar, work goes on
The vinification process has just ended and the maturation process is now underway, at constant temperatures, both in barrels or vats. For our Domaine de Longue Toque in Gigondas, we essentially use Burgundy barrels (228 litres), Demi-Muids (600 litres) as well as concrete and stainless-steel vats. The cellar work is therefore a bit slower for the team, whose main mission is to monitor the organoleptic qualities (through tasting) and analytical qualities of the wine to ensure it matures properly. At this stage, depending on the quality of the vintage, we are already able to assess how long the maturation process will last.
Such is life in the vineyard...Wine-growers are kept busy throughout the year. The care lavished on the vineyard and the consistent monitoring of work in the wine cellar is essential as it greatly contributes towards producing fine wines!