Gabrielle Rausse and Chris Hill, a tag team extraordinaire, taught our Dormant Vine Pruning class Saturday at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Both are experts in the field of viticulture with decades of experience between them. Even though their theories sometimes differed as did their teaching style, their mutual admiration was palpable. They discussed the pros and cons of irrigation and whether to allow the roots to strengthen by reaching deep into the soil for hydration. Chris was personable, very straight forward and hands on, while Gabrielle lapsed into stories of his personal experiences that literally had us rolling!
I think there is a potential book here, perhaps Gabrielleisms: Wine and Wisdom by Gabrielle Rausse!…or Gabrielle Walks the Vine! …but I get to write it! Listen to Gabrielle explain about growing the best grapes and making wine in Virginia. It sounds a little quiet in the beginning, but listen carefully to the end; he tells an interesting story about a winemaker at Afton Mountain Vineyards and her excellent results!
In this video clip, Chris demonstrates “vigor” in a grapevine starting from a tiny green shoot!
Grapes are only produced on one year old wood and pruned leaving two to three buds. We were introduced to cane pruning and spur pruning, single trunk and two trunks, cordons and buds.
We had an incredibly beautiful day in Virginia, starting off a bit windy and brisk. We walked through vineyards on the Kluge Estate, partly owned by two different banks and marked by pink ribbons. Sections had been neglected and we were able to see first hand how mismanaged vines look. Poor vines!