by Molly Moran Williams
When thinking about vineyard work, most people will likely imagine the hustle of harvest; however, while harvest is exciting, it is merely the tail end of the work that goes into the full growing season. Pruning season requires highly-skilled hands and careful attention as it sets the stage for the growing season.
Pruning season marks the very beginning of the year in vineyard work, annually. Timing can differ by grape variety and is subject to weather patterns and winter rains. Pruning styles vary as well, from cane to spur pruning, and are supported by different training methods. Look closely at the vineyards as you drive along Highway 29, and you will see a range of farming practices being implemented to try and maximize quality, sustainability, and efficiency. In every vineyard, pruning sets the stage for success in the year to come.
Put simply, pruning requires incredible skill. Carefully pruned vines are sculpted by equally careful vineyard workers who employ years of experience and technical viticultural knowledge in each cut.
*Photo by Suzanne Becker Bronk
by Michael Silacci
On a crisp January morning, under clear blue skies, Alfredo Llamas walks up to a vine in a Napa Valley vineyard. He kicks the grape stake to see if it was broken, gives the vine a once over, and begins to prune it.
Once Alfredo has given the stake a gentle kick, the vine has his complete attention and focus. He evaluates the length and girth of the canes, judging the number of buds to leave at the position.
Strong canes require additional buds to compensate for excess vigor, and Alfredo will leave fewer buds on weak canes to strengthen the position. The excess wood will be removed, and precise cuts made to leave enough cane above the bud to protect the bud from drying out, but not so much that pests find a place to harbor.
Pruning is a time to reflect on the past, live in the present, and imagine what the future will bring. Less than a minute later, Alfredo will be kicking the next stake.
*Photo submitted by Opus One
by Napa Valley Grapegrowers Staff
In the face of this year’s challenges, Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) and the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) have maintained a steady focus and commitment to supporting the community through challenging times.
In 2020, the organizations provided vital information and resources to grape growers, vineyard managers, vineyard workers, and their families. Together, NVG and FWF:
*Photo credit: Renteria Vineyard Management
by Napa Valley Grapegrowers Staff
The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF), with many thanks to a generous group of individuals, raised $20,000 in support of COVID-19 relief for Napa’s farmworker community. Through the Travis Credit Union Foundation matching grant, donations were doubled, and Travis Credit Union has awarded the FWF an additional donation of $20,000.
“The Travis Credit Union Foundation gives 100% of donations back to our local communities,” said Damian Alarcon, Director of Community Relations for the Travis Credit Union Foundation, “and we are proud of the recent fundraising collaboration with Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation because of the immediate relief that will be provided to our friends and neighbors through their vital programming.” Read the full press release.
by NVG Staff
Napa Valley sets the gold standard for farming. As an established agricultural preserve for over 50 years, the cherished, 30-mile stretch of land is cared for by dedicated grape growers who tend to their vines with careful consideration and innovation. Year-after-year, no matter the challenges, Napa Valley growers’ collective goal is to adapt, overcome, then produce high-quality winegrapes, and 2020 was no exception.
This year, Napa Valley growers faced more than the usual share of weather-related challenges, which means the 2020 growing season has been shaped and defined by the ways in which our community banded together—both to ensure the health and vitality of the workforce and to persevere through increasing climate challenges. Read the full NVG press release.
*Photo credit: Sarah Anne Risk