Pruning Chaos into Order…

For the first time…


Saturday (Jan 15)…

Warmth (a whopping 40 degrees)

and sunshine…

…but still cold enough for three pairs of socks.

Bundled up with us this weekend, is Tammy…a student from St. John’s.

Walking into the vineyard,

boots sunk deep.

Melted snow

soaked far into the earth.

Closing in on the 1st vine of the 1st row, (Merlot)

a twisty, tangled mess appeared.

Shoots stretched everywhere,

twisting…grappling onto trellis wire,

looping tight around stakes,

and stretching…sometimes across three vines.


Where to begin?

Tom leaned over,

examined the vine,

and began explaining what to do,

he made a few deliberated cuts,

and one by one, yanked the shoots, suspended by tendrils,

free from the wires…

Once a wrangled mess,

now, two shoots remain

ready to be formed into a “T”…

Next was my turn.

Looking the vine up and down,

I decided on two keepers.

With Tom’s approval,

I snip snip snipped,

pulled the shoots free,

and a second vine was finished.

Next up was Tammy.

Glancing at the next vine,

it was obviously a tricky one.

Tom offered insight,

Tammy pruned…

and we finished the third.

It quickly became apparent that every vine was unique,

and would have to be treated accordingly…

Down the rows,

thousands of individuals awaited their turn…

Playing a game of leap frog,

we move from vine to vine,

snipping and pulling.

Keeping two…

discarding the rest.

Down the row we go,

Polly, joining us,

snipping and pulling,

dragging a tarp to collect the pieces.

Vine by vine.

Snip, snip, snip, pull,…

Snip, snip, snip…

Work speeds up,

Patterns seem to emerge,

and approaches become refined.

One row complete.

The tarp, now full of discarded shoots,

is dragged up to a wood pile.

Tarp overturned,

it’s empty for the next row.

Tom, however, stays behind,

and takes a phone call…

…Ron, the vineyard manager at Boordy

A nearby resident, with tons of experience,

is offering guidance…

A pleasant surprise…and perfect timing.

After getting about halfway down the row,

Ron arrived with suggestions,

answers to questions,

a willingness to share experiences,

and free demonstrations.

After strolling the vineyard and talking (though I mostly listened),

Ron said farewell.

We finished the row with growling stomachs…

Homemade soup,

grape jelly, (from Sabina’s)

and bread (Tom is perfecting his brick-oven skills…the bread gets better every time!)

With warm bones,

we return to the vineyard to continue pruning…

4 more rows…

Silence and sounds of nature

fill the space between conversation…

We talk about Biodynamics…

*Geese honk*


*More geese honk*

Differences in the vines…

*One goose honks*

Wine labels…

*Another goose honks*

To the east,

just above the intermingled skeletons of unpruned vines,

a waxing moon appears.

A cold sweeps in.

We’ll finish this last row…

To the west,

the setting sun glows a dim orange

over the rows of pruned and orderly Merlot.


supplemented with a growing attachment

to these young little characters…

…Sunday we prune Cab Franc and Petit Verdot.

…tough guys.


About ANewVine

Developing the art of making fine Maryland wine. View all posts by ANewVine

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