The good old days… hand pruning!

Remember the frosty cold mornings, rugged up with layers of jumpers and coats, birds chirping with one another, dog sprawled on the wet grass in the early sun, mind in neutral, secateurs in hand working through the vineyard vine by vine, cutting out the excess, snipping off the unwanted and leaving a basal bud plus one or two?

Then, as the vineyard acreage grew in leaps and bounds, the machines moved in and the number of heads bobbing up and down between rows on cold winter days diminished and almost disappeared.  These days those older vineyards are pruned from top to bottom in two days rather than two months!  That’s progress.  Inventiveness and innovation have taken the place of plod, plod, plod!

Some miss those good old days, the crisp fresh mornings, the peace and quiet, the companionship with the other pruners, the morning tea with fresh baked cakes and biscuits.  On the other hand, the great majority look back and smile, wondering how on earth they ever had the time to stand alongside every single vine and rebalance it ahead of the next growing season.

But wait; there seems to be something of a revival.  In the past month the Association has received three separate requests from growers looking for a squad of hand pruners.  There were several calls last year, but not much luck.  A team came from the Hunter Valley and worked here for about a month.  This year some have travelled from the Barossa and helped out.  It seems there is an increase in the number of growers striving to produce grapes for premium wine products.  Vineyards that have been hand pruned are attracting more attention from the emerging generation of ‘young gun’ winemakers.

If you are keen to upgrade the odd patch, or indeed the complete vineyard, because the vines are being coveted by winemakers or if you need hand pruners, register your interest with Kate (8584 5816).  The Association will put out feelers and enquire where the ‘pruners’ are and what their rates are.  If there are enough growers interested it may be that together we can find enough work for a team or two of hand pruning contractors to spend time in the Riverland.  On the other hand if you are looking for work opportunities to get back into the routine and want to hone your skills, let us know; phone 8584 5816 or drop us an email.


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