vigne en hiver

Everything you need to know about vines in winter

In winter, when the cold sets in for several months, all of nature plunges into a peaceful sleep, and the vine is no exception. But, if each vine plant rests while waiting for the first buds of spring, this is not the case for the winegrowers, who have their work cut out for them to ensure the next harvest. Let's discover all the work in the vineyard in winter .

Pruning the vine in winter

After having provided its most beautiful bunches of grapes, the vines take a well-deserved little break. During this winter rest , the vineyards go into dormancy until spring. But this short truce is not a period of rest for winegrowers, who must already prepare the vines for the next season. So, after having carried out the pre-pruning of the vines in autumn, the work continues in different stages, throughout the winter, and in particular by pruning.

The behavior of the vine in winter

To understand the benefit of pruning vines during the dormant period , it is important to know how the vines behave at this time of year. Indeed, to be able to resist the cold, we observe an astonishing phenomenon, during which the sap of the vine will gradually descend from the plant, to reach the roots. All the energy is then concentrated in the essential parts of the vine, thus allowing it to better resist severe frosts and extreme cold.

The benefit of annual pruning of vines

If we let the vine grow as it wants, it will grow continuously. Ultimately, the branches and leaves will be very numerous, and the vine will have to distribute all its energy between these different parts, to ensure their survival. Result: each bunch of grapes will not have enough nutrients and energy to offer the qualities necessary for making wine.

Pruning the vine then makes it possible to regulate the growth of the vines , so that they produce more fruit than wood, but it also and above all allows all the energy to be concentrated on the most promising buds, in order to obtain grapes of quality.

A pruning not so easy to carry out

Generally speaking, once the sap is in the roots, it is easier to prune the branches. Furthermore, if the cutting is done too early, the winegrower runs the risk of causing the sap to flow, and therefore complicating the healing of the vine.

But, in reality, pruning a vine is not that simple, and it requires a lot of expertise. It is then a question of equipping yourself with pruning shears, to carry out pruning by hand , and of being vigilant in the selection of quality buds. Indeed, some will bear fruit, but not all. It is therefore necessary to remove the unnecessary branches by identifying the growths which will not give anything, to keep only the main branch, which will guarantee a pretty bunch of grapes.

The different types of size

Winegrowers can choose the type of pruning they want to give their vines the best chance to fully flourish:

  • Goblet pruning , a short pruning favored in Mediterranean vineyards;
  • The Royat cord waist , a waist where only one or 2 arms remain;
  • Guyot pruning , a pruning where only the fruiting buds are kept;
  • The lyre waist , a wide and high waist to optimize sunlight.

Protecting vines during winter

Winter is a growing period where the vines are particularly exposed to cold, an element which can have dramatic consequences. The winemaker then ensures the quality of the future grapes by carrying out other steps, complementary to pruning.

Planting new vines

Of course, it is essential to take care of the existing vines, but it is also important to replace worn-out vines and plant young vines . At the same time, there is a lot of work around the vineyard, including the maintenance and repair of stakes or wires.

Protecting the vines from the cold

From the end of autumn and until spring, periods of frost represent a great danger for the vines. The winegrower must therefore protect his rows from cold and frost , using several techniques:

  • Mounding , which consists of covering the vines with earth;
  • Lighting with heating candles or braziers , which helps warm the vineyard, while offering a nice spectacle;
  • Sprinkling , which consists of spraying water on the vine before a period of frost...

Preparing for the return of spring

When March arrives, temperatures gradually rise, and the risk of frost is less significant. So, to allow the vines to slowly wake up, the winegrowers carry out soil removal , that is to say they remove the earth from the vines and distribute it between the rows.

And what happens in the cellars in winter?

In the cellar too, the winegrower is not bored in winter. Several stages of vinification then take place from the end of autumn, and until March:

  • The assembly of new wine;
  • Bottling of early wine;
  • The breeding of wine for aging;
  • Wine racking (separation of clear wine and its deposit);
  • The production of ice wine, from very late harvests, after the grapes have frozen;
  • The topping of the wine...

Winter is a very intense period for winegrowers, who must ensure that every vine is protected against the cold. To learn more about viticulture throughout the seasons , do not hesitate to visit the cellars and the vineyard of the Berne estate.

Learn more about vines in spring


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