Ultimately, at Villiera we are looking at increasing the productive life of our vineyards to over 50 years. We will also be improving uniformity, quality and the ability of the vines to withstand stress. To facilitate this the idea is to make as few pruning wounds as possible, only small wounds, do a lot of suckering (Summer pruning) and maintain chronological order. An important outcome is that our pruning team receive 60 days of professional training in pruning and suckering in a 3 year period.
There are only 20 instructors in the world and we were one of the first vineyards to use their services in South Africa. The first group of pruners at Villiera received an in-house qualification (Certificate of participation) in 2014. This year they will do stage 2 and complete the course in 2016.
The completion of each stage will result in an increase in their salary when pruning. The project is meant to raise as much awareness as possible about the correct management of pruning operations in the vineyard and underline the importance of treasuring a profession (that of the pruner) which is crucial and not valued enough.
Simonit & Sirch ventured into twenty years of skill ‘tuning’ that allowed them to better understand traditional and common practices that are no longer taught.
They investigated the effects that pruning would have on the plant’s physiology, particularly in respect of:
The plant’s physical structure;
Water and nutrients transport via the vascular system;
The aging potential of the vine;
Susceptibility or resistance to wood diseases.