My BlogLines News Feed aggregator (great free service!) searches the blogosphere for winery and vineyard articles. This week it dug up an excellent blog posting on Winter Wine Grape Pruning in the Loire Valley of France by French photographer Bertrand Celce.
The article is well worth reading, if only to learn about secateurs and brouettes. Click here for full article.
The 'Brouette' - an improvised wheeled cart that looks much like a smoker grill. French vineyard workers push them along the vineyard rows they are working in, to burn grapevine canes removed during pruning.
He told me that in the region on the whole, pruning was done between nov 15 and end of march. Here at Jean Francois Roy vineyard, it began december 1st and would probably last until mid-march. Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon canes are usually burned as a precautionary measure to guard against potential diseases. The barrel-stove has big holes underneath and ashes fall between the ranks.
The article goes on to describe the unique 'secateurs' (small pruning shears with a spring that holds the handles open and a single blade that closes against a flat surface) used in the annual vineyard pruning process. Read the full article for details and a few pictures.
Asked about the pruning, he said it was a pre-pruning, a winter pruning, and that a second passage would occur in spring, to slow the new shoot and control sap vigor. Past and present collide with side by side, the antique stove on wheels, and the battery powered secateurs. The battery is this orange thing on their back . These battery powered pruning tools make work easier. A typical day like this means cutting thousand of canes, wich has to be done with hand. I heard this tool was first invented in France in 1985, and helped prevent many muscle and joint injuries.
French photographer Bertrand Celce's blog - Wine Tasting, Vineyards, in France