– By Alain Leroux
One of the big challenges of making wine in Beijing is pruning the vines. Due to the warmer weather this year, we began pruning at Taillan one month later than usual, starting on November 7 and finishing on November 29.
We plant our vines in depressions. This allows for irrigation and it makes burial of the vines easier.
In order to bury the vines, we prune them to two branches. This allows us to bend the branches against the ground and cover them with 40 centimeters of soil.
(Before, our local workers would prune the vines like they were trees, creating a fan of branches. This made it too difficult to bend and bury the branches.)
Bending and burying is not a typical way to treat vines. The reason we do it is to protect them from Beijing’s cold winter. The vines freeze at -16 degrees Celsius and we sometimes have night temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius.
If the weather continues as last year, when it was -7 degrees Celsius at night, we won’t have to bury the vines. We also won’t have to prune before winter. Instead, we can do it in March, which is better for the vines, and for the grapes, too.
As we say in France : “You can prune early, or you can prune late, but best to prune in the middle.” Nothing is better than March pruning.
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