Review of 2017 Pruning – Daniel Baron
Review of 2017 Pruning
In February I had the pleasure to spend four days pruning with the Simonit and Sirch team from Italy – Marco Simonit, Alessandro Zanutta and Marco Tessari – in a number of Silver Oak and Twomey vineyards. What is more basic to viticulture than pruning? It goes back to Roman times, and yet… these guys have found some new wrinkles. They discovered some old methods that were discarded as too costly for production viticulture and they have brought them back into practice. And I am not alone in admiring their efforts. Their client list includes Château Latour, Château Yquem, Château Ausone in Bordeaux and among many, Ornellaia and Rinaldi in Italy.
I never cease to marvel at the human capacity for detail and mastery of both the most complex and the most basic of activities. Marco and his team have put into question many of the tenets we hold sacred about pruning. The way I see their system is a method in which one let’s the plant lead the way. Rather than the agronomist “fixing” nature and shaping it into a neat form, he or she responds to it and guides the plant growth in such a way as to preserve sap flow to all parts of the vine and thus assure more consistency and longer vine life.
In addition to paying attention to the effects on vine physiology of our pruning decisions, Simonit and Sirch are also conscious of the human and team building opportunities of a process like pruning. Their recognition and inclusion of the Hispanic field workers in their education process is enlightened and I believe is the key to taking the execution of our viticulture to the next level.
In something as basic as pruning, there is still room for learning, contemplation and improvement. It reminds me of a great musician who takes time to practice scales.
Never ignore the importance of the basics
Daniel Baron is a viticulture and winemaking consultant based in Napa, California. He began his career in the early 1970’s as a field worker in the vineyards of Knight’s Valley, became one of Dr Harold Olmo’s last graduate students at UC Davis and one of only 6 people to intern at Chateau Petrus, his being the only one-year internship. He was General Manager of Dominus Estate for 12 years and Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars for 22 years. He utilizes an integrated approach that combines precision farming, collaborative leadership, science-based winemaking and old-world artisanal techniques to produce vibrant, moderate alcohol wines.
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