After the hustle of harvest has slowed inside of the winery at Altos Las Hormigas and quietness falls over Mendoza, the next set of work must begin.
Just as you or I change our bedding as the seasons change, stripping away or adding layers in order to find a homeostatic peace as we rest, the same must be done in a vineyard at the end (or rather the beginning) of the growing season. Pruning, the removing of selected parts of the vines to control growth, maintain health and promote new life is essential to how the vine will perform in the upcoming vintage.
At Altos Las Hormigas the pruning begins in early June and continues throughout August. This process is done in stages, and has been perfected through years of experience in understanding how the soils of our vineyards interact with both the Malbec and Bonarda vines, how vigor affects the amount of growth that is removed, and knowing the best method of pruning to achieve homeostasis with our vines.
Our first step is to add a winter crop cover by seeding the vineyards. This will help improve both soil and root structure, and allows for aeration, drainage into the soil, and ultimately helps the integration of organic matter into the soil.
When we are in the vineyard looking at how much to prune from the vine we must account for vigor, and leave just enough of the shoots depending on the size of the vine. This is a key in order to find balance in not only in the vine, but in the amount of fruit we want per vine. These critical cuts are the second step in our process.
After the trimming has been completed, the remaining cane is arched. This is not an ornamental decision, but crucial to having an even bud burst along the shoot come Spring. Although many viticulturists prefer the method of pruning leaving a cordon with spurs, we prune in double guyot with two canes for better hormonal distribution.
This process may seem rather simple, but only the right formula provides the homeostasis necessary for our Malbec and Bonarda vines to have a beautiful winter’s nap – and be ready to produce quality fruit when the time is right for them to awaken.