While the must that will become Amarone 2012 is waiting to start the fermentation inside tanks, vines pruning activity continues in vineyards. In a couple of weeks it should be completed in all Valpolicella area. Pruning determines the shape that vines will take, not only in the oncoming season, both also in the long term over the years. But above all, pruning determines how much the vine will expand and produce in the current year. Grape prduction is planned ahead by wine makers with pruning, and grape quantity per vine is one of the key factor that influences the quality of all wines in general and Amarone in particular. Pruning is therefore the first of many steps in that process that over many years will determine how good the Amarone of a particular vintage is.
Pruning should be done now that the plant is completely dormant.
It’s a quite simple activity but must be done accuratly. It consists in the removal from the vine-stock of the shoots that developed last year. Only one brunch, the most vigorous, is left, from this branch new shoots will grow from next April. On the trunk, lower than the main branch, a stump of another branch is also left. It is called “spur” (sperone in Italian), from it the main branch of 2014 will generate.
Now the main branch must be shortened to avoid overproduction. Around 8 buds are left. The autoctonous grapes of Valpolicella, Corvina in particular, develop fruiting shoots starting from the third bud. The two buds closer to the trunk only generate leaves, therefore from 8 buds left, only five or six will bear grapes. These are still too many for high quality, but it also allows some leeway in case something goes wrong during the year: spring frost, hail, etc.. If then the season is good and there is actually over-production, it is always possible to intervene with a green harvest that reduces bunches in excess before they ripen.
Once the pruning is over, the wires in the vineyards are tightened-up and the left branches are tied horizontally to the lower of these wires. New shoots will grow vertically and coil around the wires above.