There’s a lot more behind that perfect glass of wine than planting and harvesting grapes. The proof is in the pruning, and at Penns Woods Winery, we take pruning to heart.
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.
“You prune grapevines to control the vigor of growth,” Davide explained. “If you don’t prune with care, vines will grow out of control and eventually become unbalanced—and that will drastically reduce the grapes’ quality. Lack of care also increases the risk of plant infection by mildews.”
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.”
Ever wonder about the vine’s unique shape on the trellis? We use VSP (vertical shoot positioned) to maximize sun exposure on the leaves. It also gives direction and orientation to the rows of vines, which increases airflow between them. All that makes for healthier, happier vines. Happy vines produce amazing grapes, and amazing grapes mean consistently excellent wine.
“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.
It all comes down to this: carefully planted, well-pruned and hand-harvested grapes make wines you can count on for quality, consistency and superior taste. Come visit our tasting room, sip from our current selections, pet Harper (if she’s not out “working” the vineyard) and decide for yourself. Creating celebrated Italian-style wines is in our DNA, and we’re proud to share them with you.
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!
Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.