There are many facets to vineyard management but few actions are as crucial in determining the eventual quality of grapes as the process of pre-pruning and pruning in the vineyard. The process of pruning, if done incorrectly, can directly impact both the quality and quantity of the harvest. Striking the right balance between the two is paramount, and it requires experience and time.


Fortunately, Christo and his team have no shortage of experience and expertise. Before undertaking the pruning process, a thorough assessment of the vineyard block’s historical performance is conducted. This evaluation helps in determining the desired outcome, whether it is to manage the vine’s fertility or yield. The actions taken during winter pruning play a pivotal role in determining the potential yield and quality of the grapes.


Various factors influence the decision-making process during pruning. Environmental conditions, such as the season and other effective factors like flowering and vine stress, must be taken into account. Achieving the right balance between fruit quality, growth, and overall vine health is essential for a successful harvest. For several years now, the vineyard team has been working very closely with Simonit and Sirch, internationally reputed pruning professionals, in an endeavour to promote overall vine health with a particular focus on the vine’s vascular system and its natural sap flow.


In terms of the pruning techniques employed, some vineyards opt for pre-pruning before the final pruning, while others, such as Oldenburg Vineyards, carry out both on the same day. The latter approach, known as cutting clean or “skoon sny,” helps simplify the process and minimises stress on the plants by reducing the number of pruning wounds.


Different trellising styles also play a role when it comes to pruning. Oldenburg Vineyards makes use of Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP), “échalas” or “stok-by-paaltjie,” systems in addition to Bush vines and most recently a few Chardonnay blocks to the “Guyot” system. The choice of pruning style depends on the grape variety and its specific requirements for budding and uniform growth.


The vineyard’s pruning team undergoes rigorous training and examination with Christo to ensure they understand the importance of each pruning decision. Working together, the team prunes vines and engages in discussions about their actions and reasoning. This collaborative approach fosters expertise and confidence in making informed pruning decisions.


The efficiency of the pruning process is essential in vineyard management. The goal is for each team member to prune around 300 to 350 vines per day. Training new team members in specific pruning systems may initially require more time, but it ultimately contributes to the overall effectiveness of the process and serves to empower the team.

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