The work starts after bud-break in late spring or early summer, with the removal of the secondary buds and shoots.
This de-budding allows us to eliminate excess foliage and “design” the structure of the vine by cleaning the trunk of any unwanted budlets (or “chupones”, as we call them). This way, we only keep the shoots that were spared during pruning, in order to make sure they grow with sufficient vigour. Normally we leave two buds for each of the six canes, meaning the vine will have 12 stems and 12 bunches.
In this video, Félix Mato, the CEO of Bodegas Sonsierra, shows us how this task is done.
Después de la espergura tiene lugar el desniete, una de las labores más importantes en los viñedos de Sonsierra, que aprendimos de nuestros antepasados.
After the de-budding comes the “suckering”, or shoot-thinning, which is one of the most important tasks in Sonsierra’s vineyards and involves techniques that are handed down from generation to generation.
Before suckering we gently clip the tips, or the “pámpanos”, to prevent them from being damaged by the strong winds that are often encountered in this area.
We then commence the suckering proper, which aims to optimise airflow around the vine and its exposure to sunlight, thereby ensuring the plant remains as healthy as possible. We do this by removing the secondary buds that emerge between the leaves and the shoots.
Once again, Félix Mato presents a video showing us how the suckering is done.
Summer is also the time for so-called “green pruning”, when we remove the excess vegetative growth in order to generate a balance between the plant’s yield and canopy.
It’s then time for the magical moment of “veraison”, or the onset of ripening, in which the grapes start to take on their red and blue colouring (or yellow and green, in the case of white grapes) as the anthocyanins enter the seeds. In times past, winemakers would predict the date of the harvest by tasting the grapes as they began to ripen, assessing their levels of sweetness and the progressive reduction in acidity. Nowadays, of course, we have the invaluable assistance of technologies such as refractometry, which tells us when the grapes have reached their optimum level of maturity.