February. The lockdown and cold temperatures could be a perfect reason not to be out on the vineyards. It’s actually quite the opposite, work continues, in safety and in the cold, against a privileged backdrop. It's pruning time in the Távora Valley.
This is always a special time. The experienced hands of the pruners prepare the vines for the next harvest. Pruning involves an early selection and thinning of bunches. It’s important to understand how strong each plant is and the load it can take, so that just the right number of buds are left behind to achieve that much sought-after balance between higher quality yields and a healthy vine.
Knowledge is everything. Carlos Alberto, foreman on the Kranemann Wine Estates’ vineyard team, has known the vineyards at Quinta do Convento de São Pedro das Águias since he was 12 years old. In Portugal, and in the Douro in particular, preserving the vast grape variety heritage, especially by keeping existing old vines (which are a unique genetic resource), gives us the quality that makes these wines stand out.
Pruning is especially important among the old vines. In one of our oldest vineyards, planted in 1970, and from where year after year we take our best red wine, our "Grand Cru", we decided this year, at the same time as we carry out the pruning, we’d try out some grapevine layering. This technique involves choosing the best stem on the vine and bending it down to touch a hole in the ground. This then allows the stem to take root and create a new plant, ensuring the richness and diversity of that particular plot of land live on.
The cold that keeps plants dormant is a great friend of the vines. As they rest, it’s a perfect time for pruning. We prepare the vines so they are ready to produce shoots again when the temperature rises. And then a new vegetative cycle will begin.