January is dedicated to pruning. This is hard work, and we mostly have to do it by temperatures below zero. However, sometimes it is also enjoyable to be outside when fresh snow covers the vineyards and the sun is shining.
In our winery we renounce modern aids, like pneumatic or electric scissors, and trust in the traditional tools: if it is too easy to cut the wood, one might be seduced to cut unnecessarily wide wounds into the vines.
With interest we observe the results of “gentle pruning”: we avoid bigger wounds to the vines: harming the old wood of the plant creates dead spaces which work like portals for fungus and other diseases. We aim for vines with longevity. Our most ancient vineyards today are about 100 years old, yet we would like to them to reach an age of 120 eventually 150 years! Wine from old vineyards is especially balanced and full of character.
Of men and mites
Another very important and interesting current task is to set out predatory mites (Typhlodromus pyri) as natural antagonists of pest insects like spider and rust mites. This has to be done in January while those little spiders are hibernating in specially prepared felt stripes. We lay those strips around the stems of the vines. In springtime, at the first mild sunbeams the mites wander from the felt onto the wood, wherein later they also might be able to retreat and again hibernate. Besides animal prey like spider and rust mites scales or thunderbugs, predatory mites also may subsist on vegetarian food like flower pollen.
Here in the vineyard, men and mites are partners. Those little insects (not bigger than 0,7mm) help to protect our vineyards and we have to take care that they will not be harmed.