Pruning Is Underway at Mount Salem Vineyards

When most people think of winemaking, images of people stomping grapes into purple masses come to mind. But in actuality, one of the most important parts of winemaking – and the sole most important part of vineyard management – is pruning, which is when we cut parts of vines that aren’t needed to produce a desirable crop of grapes in the coming season.

But like most imperative tasks, it isn’t glamorous. Actually, it couldn’t be less glamorous – or comfortable.

Cold temperatures and precise snips

Pruning must be completed by late March to beat any possible early budbreak and in New Jersey, that means frigid temperatures and, like we battled last week, snow. It will take us 200 labor hours to finish pruning the five vineyards we manage, which means there’s no time to waste. That also means that as long as it’s over 30 degrees – any colder and it’s harmful to the vines – we’ll be bundled up with our pruning shears.

More about winemaking: We’re ‘Wine Midwives’ Here at Mount Salem Vineyards. Here’s How We Guide The Process

However, it’s not as easy as a few quick snips. As we’ve learned firsthand, each vine is unique, and it takes experience to determine what needs to be cut and what needs to be left behind. To make matters worse, cutting too much of a vine is just as harmful as not cutting enough.

It’s a puzzle, but a rewarding one (if done correctly.) A well-pruned vineyard will result in top-quality grapes, and lots of them. And, it’ll save money – an improperly-pruned vineyard will eventually need to be corrected by experts to continue to produce fine grapes. Otherwise, all winemakers will be left with is a tangled mess of vine trunks and shoots that yield few, if any, grapes.

There’s also no one-size-fits-all when it comes to pruning – there are various methods, and a vineyard manager must choose one based on grape variety, climate and more.

Our wine selection: Here’s Why Our Central European-Focused Winery Has Always Offered Northern Italian Varieties

A professional in action

But a well-seasoned master can manage it all. If you ever get a chance to see one in action, you’ll know. They’ll spend most of their time with a vine by simply studying it, and then make two or three quick cuts, resulting in just one clean vine with only what’s needed to produce the newest batch of wine.

Check out what’s happening at Mount Salem Vineyards by contacting us at 908-735-9359 or

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