For those vineyards with traditional bush-trained vines, the plants generally consist of a trunk formed of three stalks, which are pruned by leaving two thumb-lengths of growth per stalk and two buds per length. By limiting the buds we limit the number of shoots, thereby ensuring that the shoots that do grow are vigorous and produce grapes of the best possible quality.
Pruning can be done throughout the entire time the plant is dormant (i.e. when there is no sap movement), from when the leaves fall to when the plant “wakes up” again. The length of the period is determined by the risk of spring frosts, given that if pruning is done too early, the buds will begin to sprout early, which could then expose the shoots to late spring frosts. To prevent this from happening, we prune in January.
Some of the vines still have grapes on them; these very late, “third-generation” bunches grow high on the vine and are never harvested, as they are not yet ripe at harvest time and would have a negative impact on the quality of the wine. By harvesting all our grapes by hand, at Sonsierra we can ensure we only select the best bunches.
The stems that are cut off during pruning are gathered up in bunches and used throughout the year for roasting the famous Rioja-style lamb chops – a local dish you simply must try if you ever visit our region!