Davide Creato, our vineyard manager and assistant winemaker, is the caretaker of our precious vines. He and his assistant, Miguel Lopez, prune the entire vineyard—all under the “supervision” of our vineyard dog, Harper.
No worries about that at Penns Woods! Davide and Miguel employ two important pruning methods: cane and cordon spur. They cane prune (cut back growth in a very systematic way) for grape varietals sensitive to the cold. Leaving select long shoots on the vine offers more buds, which is a safety precaution if some buds are damaged by frost. Cordon spur pruning (working with the “spurs” or arms on a thicker and older “branch”) is used for varietals that need even more control of vigor. It also raises the quality of the grapes by positioning the fruit shoots vertically, which leads to better sun exposure and air drainage.
“Some varietals, like Sauvignon Blanc, have low bud fertility and need cane pruning,” Davide added. “Other varietals with regular bud fertility can withstand cordon spur pruning, like Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay.”
“People are surprised to learn we prune throughout the year, starting in the winter, in late January or early February,” Davide noted. “In May, we start shoot thinning, which removes extra shoots throughout the canopy. This results in fewer grape clusters in the canopy, resulting in less quantity and greater quality. In July and August, we do edging, which removes excess leaves and growth in the higher part of the canopy that is growing beyond the trellising system.”
And in the category of waste-not, want-not (drum roll, please!): we turn all the shoots cut during winter pruning—two to three pounds per vine—into mulch. This organic, nutrient-rich powerhouse is spread between the rows of vines to give back to the soil.
Penns Woods Winery is a family-run Pennsylvania winery. With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter, Carley Mack, produce award-winning wines from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. Penns Woods wines can be found in restaurants throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Stop in to your local state store and pick from a limited selection of wines, or visit our tasting room for the full offering. The tasting room in Chadds Ford provides an all-around vineyard experience and hosts live music, food and wine pairings and other exciting events each weekend. Score Penns Woods Winery news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter today!