There's no rest for our vineyard workers who, as soon as harvest had finished and the first cold days arrived, started the autumn and winter work on Château Palmer's 55 hectares of vineyards. Their tasks are carried out with great care but always in the interest of efficiency so that everything will be ready for the awakening of the vines in the spring. A balance perfectly mastered by our vineyard workers.
Pruning is of capital importance. Its completion will not only directly influence the upcoming vintage, but also the production of the vine for years to come. Just as in the art of pruning a bonsai, pruning the vine also requires a thorough know-how that involves rigorous training to master the technique. Our more experienced vineyard workers pass their knowledge on to the new arrivals.
At Château Palmer we use the "médocaine" pruning method, in which each vine stock is left with one "cane" (a long branch) on both sides of the trunk.
At present, the Merlot vines are pruned. Our vineyard workers will now begin pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, a variety at high risk for vine diseases and needing to be pruned as late as possible.
This task has always been entrusted to our most experienced vineyard workers. By late afternoon, Pierre-Alain, Team Leader, invites his 8 coworkers to begin the next plot.
Removing the canes:
This operation consists of removing the recently cut canes from the vine supports. To facilitate this task, the supports from the previous year are taken down with the help of a small billhook. This traditional cutting tool, simple and efficient, the size of a knife, has a dished blade sharpened on the inside to facilitate cutting the ties.
Tying the trunk:
Observing "acanage", or tying the vine trunk to the marking stake, is a unique moment. As the morning mist rises, the sun shines on the orange-colored ties used to maintain the vine trunk upright against the marker. By a series of skillful movements, the team of vineyard workers with their expert hands, tie the "vime" around the trunk and the wire. This natural string is a willow twig that grows close to Château Palmer, on the banks of the Garonne River.
Done at the same time as tying the trunk, training is intended to fix the remaining canes to the wires in order to guide the growth of the future vegetation to respect the row. Jacques Dupin, Vineyard Director, considers the vine a type of wild plant that must be guided, places great emphasis on this work. The cane must be bent, in the form of an arc, towards the soil. This favors the growth of buds along the entire branch.
Our two tractor drivers scrutinize each plot to detect any dead vines. They are delicately removed and will be replaced by young vine stock in the spring.
We invite you to discover the picture album
to illustrate these winter work in the vineyard.