How to prune a vine

Frost - How to prune a vine

Our vineyard team walkthrough how to prune a vine as we get ready for the growing season

Winter often seems like a quiet time in the vineyard. There’s no leaves or grapes being grown but there is actually just as much going on here as we spend cold, wintery days in the field pruning vines (see how we prune a vine below). While the vines are asleep, the cold weather is allowing the vines to rest and restore ahead of another season of growing more juicy fruit. The winter cold puts the vine to sleep and with that, the activity inside the vine slows.

This is when we begin our yearly pruning of the vines which is one of the most important jobs we do each and every year. Pruning vines encourages new, healthy and fruitful growth each year. It removes spent, damaged or diseased parts of the vines, keeping the vine vigorous and encouraging larger crops.

This has always been a long process. Before opening the Kitchen and winery here at the vineyard, we spent our weekends pruning around our full time jobs. Nowadays, we have more time to focus on the vines and we can get out in the vineyard a lot more easily. That being said, it is still a lengthy task to prune 5000 vines by hand.

To prune a vine takes a skilled and patient hand. The quicker you work, the more chance you have of making a mistake, which could quite easily result in an injury or a missing finger or two. So, we take our time. We assess the vine we are about to prune and carefully set about creating its optimum shape for the new season.

Pruning - How to prune a vine

 

How do you prune a vine?

Firstly, you need a clean and very sharp pair of secateurs so that any cuts you make are easy on the wrist and leave the vine with clean wounds.

There are two important elements working in tandem with a vine in each season. To start with, each vine produces ‘canes’. Canes are shoots that come directly from the ‘crown’, which is the head of the vine. These canes are grown vertically in year one, with only a small amount of fruit grown from them.

In the second year, these canes are tied down horizontally along the fruiting wire using biodegradable tapes. Now the cane is horizontal, this encourages new shoots to grow vertically from ‘nodes’ or buds where leaves would have grown in the first year. From these new vertical growing shoots, you will see much more growth and from here you will produce a larger crop of juicy bunches of grapes.

tying down - How to prune a vine

Once the season is over and the fruit has been harvested, these horizontal canes are no longer needed as they will not produce such large crops again. So to keep the vine vigorous, we remove these by pruning them back to the crown once the vine is dormant in the winter. By this time, the first element of the process has repeated itself with new, healthy and vigorous canes being grown over the summer at the same time, to replace the horizontal canes we are removing.

You’ll probably find us in the field pruning the vines for 3-4 months through the winter. By the time we finally finish pruning all 5000 vines, pull out the old growth and tie the new growth to the wires we will begin to see the temperatures rise and start to stir the vines from their slumber. Then, the rollercoaster speeds off and before you know it, we will have a vineyard full of grapes again. Fingers crossed for a great season!

 

Tom Hodgetts

Tom Hodgetts

Head wine wizard
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Large table bookings

As a small team prided on serving freshly cooked plates we have a few restrictions when it comes to larger groups detailed below:

Please note a £10pp charge against a credit/debit card is required to book a table of 8+. No charge is taken unless you don’t show up on the day or cancel without 48hrs notice.

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Sunset winemakers tour + supper evenings

Next: Sat 1st June – The ultimate evening with us. Discover our story + learn all about English wine. Followed by our kitchens take on a traditional paella cooked overlooking Dartmoor.

Alcohol Awareness

We love wine here at Alder Vineyard but it’s useful to remember that wine is of course an alcoholic product. Whilst wine can be enjoyed in moderation, it is important to seek help and advice if you think you, or a loved one is drinking too much. 

You must be 18 or over to purchase wine and other alcoholic products. 

Our Kitchen is well stocked with drinks from across Devon and beyond and proudly includes several non-alcoholic options. This includes non-alcoholic beers, gin-alternatives, mocktails and of course, soft drinks. 

If you think you, or a loved one may need help and support due to alcohol misuse, please use the links below to find incredibly useful charities and resources that can help you. 

Sustainability Statement

We are proudly committed to protecting our environment and the planet in any way we possibly can. Our ethical and sustainable practices are at the heart of what we do here. 

What have we done so far?

  • Introduction of ‘wild areas’. The garden of the Kitchen includes our gorgeous wildflower area that is ever-changing and evolving. We have also set aside a huge area of land below the vineyard which has become our nature haven. We are allowing mother nature to repossess this area, surrounding a beautiful stream. Encouraging wildflowers and native species to thrive on our vineyard land. 
  • 100% of our power comes from renewable provider Octopus, powering the Kitchen, winery and shop. We also use energy-saving light bulbs and other techniques to reduce our uses wherever possible. 
  • We source products and ingredients from countless local suppliers, reducing food miles and supporting other local businesses. 
  • We send no waste to landfill. 100% of our waste is recycled, reused, composted or used to make energy via DCW 
  • We harness a natural spring on the farm to provide water for tasks such as washing vehicles, vineyard work, watering plants and flower beds. We only use mains water for use in the kitchen and winery. 
  • Our own products are bottled in lightweight glass and aluminium caps, meaning our bottles are created, transported and recycled with minimal energy use. 
  • Our entire range is packaged in plastic-free shipping boxes and is delivered to the customer by our courier, APC who use modern, aero-dynamic, fuel-efficient vehicles that are regularly maintained and serviced to reduce carbon emissions. 
  • We promote the use of plastic-free packaging to our suppliers.
  • We employ a wonderful team of local people. Where possible we encourage car sharing, travelling by bike or electric vehicle. 

 

What else do we aim to do in the future:

  • Our goal is to add solar panels and batteries to our building to remove or reduce the need for power to be brought in from elsewhere. 
  • Another mission is always reducing our requirement for the use of chemicals in the vineyard. We have always refused to use insecticides, however we would like to focus on reducing the use of other sprays wherever possible in the near future whilst making use of ever evolving organic alternatives. 
  • We will be partnering with other local companies who can make use of our harvest waste. For example, our red grape skins will be used to make ‘Grappa’ for the first time in 2023.

Accessibility information

This guide is designed to make your visit as fantastic as possible and to give you the opportunity to let us know where and when we can help you with specific needs. 

Our entire building is wheelchair friendly and we will always endeavour to cater for any specific need or requirement. 

If there is anything we can do that is not mentioned in this guide, please do let us know by emailing hello@aldervineyard.uk or calling 01566783409 ahead of your visit. 

 

Level Access:

  • Our entire building is on one level, meaning you can get around easily with a wheelchair. 
  • You can park directly in front of the building entrance, on a flat paved area. From here you can access the café, our unisex accessible toilets, outside terrace, and the winery. 
  • Please note: If you are joining us for a tour, this does involve a walk around the vineyard which is unfortunately not wheelchair friendly. Due to the terrain of the vineyard, a steep hill and lack of hard walkways this is not suitable for wheelchair users or those who struggle to walk. For more information, or to discuss joining a tour which can be adapted to be accessible please email tom@aldervineyard.uk. We will endeavour to adapt the tour to suit your individual needs where possible. 

 

Hearing:

  • Our café is a modern space designed for the very best social eating experiences. 
  • We have a fantastic, self-made, playlist of music to provide a relaxed atmosphere whilst not being imposing as you are eating. However we understand that might not be ideal for some. Each speaker in the ceiling is individually controlled and can be turned off to make a specific area quieter. Please just let us know when booking if you prefer a quiet space and we can choose a table more suited to this and turn the music off in that area. 
  • We have invested in large, padded photographs for the café walls which are actually sound buffering panels in disguise. This, along with our chair socks reduces the sound in the café as well. 
  • There are no speakers outside, however the outside area is not covered so we cant guarantee this will be suitable on wet/cold/windy days. 
  • All of our team are trained to be able to help you as much as we possibly can. 

 

Visual

  • Our café is designed around full height windows and have dark grey frames to make them stand out as much as possible.
  • The walls and doors have high colour contrast.
  • Our team would be more than happy to read the menu to you if you have vision problems as well as answer any questions you may have. 

 

General

  • We have a complimentary ticket system for personal assistants or carers. 
  • Our whole team has been trained to help in any way possible to ensure the best experience. 
  • We have an emergency evacuation protocol in place for disabled visitors. 

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We will check our availability and be in-touch soon to confirm your table via email.

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Yours and our teams safety is our number 1 priority. We have made a number of changes in the vines to keep us all safe. This is under constant review and will be updated when the government advice changes.

safe travels

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Social distancing

Please keep to a 2m distance when you visit. We have set all our tables at least 1.5m apart and do recommend face coverings in all indoor areas. Our team will still be wearing face covering when around you too.

Tables size limits

To continue to keep us safe in the vines we are keeping our tables limited to 10 people. We can accommodate larger groups but please get in touch to discuss any 10+ bookings with us.

Hand washing & cleaning

We have introduced a number of hand cleaning stations and guests are required to use hand sanatisor on entry. Our team are washing their hands between each customer and we are disinfecting all tables and chairs between use.

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We are offering table service in the kitchen and advice using contactless or card payments where possible.

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