I thought it would be demoralizing, pruning the vines of my test vineyard for the very last time. Pruning is an exciting time because, through the principles of spare parts viticulture, you can correct problems and redesign each vine with an eye on making it better this season and beyond. You can replace trunks, improve shoot distribution, train new cordons, eliminate long spurs. On every single vine you can strive for that elusive goal: perfection. Sometimes you get closer, especially as your skill and knowledge improve. Often you do not. But each vine you touch is an opportunity.
This year, however, I won't be able to view the fruits of my labor. I won't be able to see what affect my pruning has had on this year's crop and next year's winter survival. Last year was a weather disaster in our region, so I was really looking forward to this year to wipe the slate clean. Signs are good...this time last year we had four-inch shoots on the traminette. We're at least three weeks delayed this year on budbreak...a good thing.
So, for all these reasons, I thought I might be a little depressed pruning these vines that I've been watching over for seven years knowing that I won't be able to bring them to harvest, suspecting that whoever buys our house might even decide to rip them out and plant ornamentals.
But as I finished pruning this weekend, I looked back and realized that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I took a few risks, being more aggressive in trunk retraining, saving fewer spare buds knowing that whoever takes over the vineyard will not likely know enough to do any shoot thinning. When I was finished, the vines were tidy, the buds on the verge of swelling, the whole vineyard ready for what may very well be the most exciting time in the vineyard.
There is a Zen quality to pruning. You get in a zone and things become automatic. So instead of feeling disappointment over the fact that this was my last time pruning the vineyard, I instead experienced a sort of reprieve from the anxieties of wrapping up one job, starting another, packing up a house and moving a family 2,000 miles toward an uncharted future.