We made our first foray into the Kirkwood vineyard during tonight’s viticulture course. Our instructor, Lucas McIntire, warned us of the muddy mess, but once we walked to the hillside, the ground was in better shape.
March is prime pruning time for grapevines, especially with the frigid weather we’ve been experiencing this spring in Iowa. Vines need to be pruned considerably – with each cane cut back to a three-bud-spur or so – to
maintain the proper structure and keep the branches evenly spaced for optimal placement. That ideal form allows the sunlight to ripen the fruit at the same time and helps optimize yields.
Kirkwood grows nearly 20 varieties of grapes including Niagara and LaCrosse, both planted in 2006, to Petite Pearl, planted in 2010 and Sabrevois in 2011. Even in the dormant stage, the vineyard is serenely scenic, but it will be more enjoyable when it’s at least above freezing. Hopefully, it won’t be too cold to grip the pruners tomorrow night when our class has a chance to literally try our hands at pruning. Read more about Kirkwood’s viticulture course here and about vineyard health here.