Winter in the vineyard tends to be the slow season. At our spot just outside of Boonville, there is a lot of rain, frost, and generally unpleasant weather that makes it a necessity to wear rubber boots when going outside, and completely impossible to even get a tractor into the vineyard. It's a nice time to be slow, although there are a few important tasks that must be done during this time -- the most important of these is pruning.
Pruning a vineyard is the same theory as pruning rose bushes, per se, only you're basing your entire year's income on what you cut off and what you keep. Pruning sets up the vine for the coming year's growth, as well as the next year's, so it must be done right. Too many "positions" left mean too much fruit and unbalanced vines. Too few means too little fruit and too little income.
We started pruning our Pinot Noir this week. It's a bit early, but it's nice to be done before too much rain comes. A crew of about 20 guys is currently sweeping through the vineyard. Then we go behind and "dob" the "wounds." Basically we paint the newly cut ends with a substance that protects the vines from a disease carried by rain (eutypa). Not many people in the industry bother with this because of its time-consuming nature (HOURS), but we do everything we can to keep the vines healthy. And if that means painting every cut end on 15 acres ourselves, that's what gets done.