The never-ending work in the vineyard continues apace during these months. With the coming of spring, the vineyard regains its splendour, as the sap rises and the plant resumes its vegetative growth.
After green pruning in May, when we cut back shoots from the trunk, arms and cordons to allow better development of the bunches (cutting back the more developed parts of the grapevine allows better penetration of light and air), now is the time for other key tasks to enhance the coming harvest: thinning and pinching out.
This is the time of year that we thin our vines by hand using fine canes. This involves removing the tip of the shoots to avoiding the plant becoming too long, so it will be better balanced and give bigger bunches. At Tres Piedras we do this work by hand as each plant grows its own way and we believe that this is the best way to make sure we cut in just the right spot (mechanical thinning is at the same point on all the vines). The thinning will also ensure more consistent shoots for next year, in terms of both thickness and buds.
Thinning also makes it easier to work in the vineyard. The pruning helps to clear and open the rows, trimming the vines for further consistency also helps tillage and health control.
As June progresses, in the vineyard we concentrate on eliminating the non-fertile – non-productive – shoots that emerge from the main shoot (known as “grandchildren” in Spanish). This pinching out continues to enhance the health of the plant, allowing the sun and air to penetrate better (as well as making the grape harvest easier). It is also important to remember that Lobesia botrana (the dreaded European grape moth) does not like well-aired bunches, so pinching out is a big help in keeping it away from the vineyard.
Pinching out can even continue until veraison, when the grapes begin to ripen and the vines ought to be left alone until the grape clusters are thinned out, if needed.