It’s been a tough pruning season so far with the wet weather, but the recent cold snap has allowed most growers to now get underway. Thanks to the frosts in October, VineWorks has had teams pruning our customers’ vineyards since the beginning of December. As the pruning season progresses, the upcoming WineGB pruning competition is becoming more prominent in our thoughts. This is something we’re very much looking forward to.

The idea of bringing the viticultural industry together to celebrate this important task is not new. There have been pruning competitions held across the globe for decades with many prestigious titles to be won. Here in the UK, our inaugural pruning competition was held in 2019 and we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops over time.

The wine side of the trade holds countless competitions – a lot more people volunteer to critique finished wine rather than stand in the cold to prune a vine! However, it’s vitally important to bring the viticultural side of the industry together and champion the skills required to establish a flourishing industry. We need to celebrate the expertise of our vineyard laborers and applaud their proficiency. This not only boosts morale for those involved, but actively encourages others to consider joining our diverse industry.

Becoming a competent and efficient pruner requires many years of practice, dedication and hard work. Pruning is a labour-intensive task, physically and mentally. From a distance, it may appear to be repetitive and therefore relatively simple, but each vine must be considered on an individual basis and each cut tailored to the vine’s positioning and growth patterns. These are time-consuming thought processes which less experienced pruners will need to concentrate on. Any mistakes will become clearly apparent as the season progresses…

VineWorks are proud to have an 80% return rate of our vineyard labourers. Our teams are highly skilled and efficient, having spent numerous seasons pruning in vineyards across Europe. They are proficient in multiple pruning techniques and are capable of working at an impressive speed with exacting precision!

Our workers enjoy participating in competitions; in-house ones are great, but industry-wide ones hold a lot of prestige. They are eager to showcase their skill and a little team rivalry goes a long way towards encouraging fantastic results!

How you choose your pruning team is another question. We currently have over 100 labourers out in fields across the country, all of whom would love the chance to represent their colleagues. The accolade of being chosen to participate in the UK pruning competition is an achievement in itself, displaying our appreciation of their hard work and our faith in their competency and professionalism.

When determining your chosen few, consider not only their pruning ability, but also how they may respond under pressure. It can be daunting for even the most experienced pruner to be suddenly demonstrating their art under scrutiny.
By nature, UK vineyard sites are spread out across the country with many even located far from their office or winery bases. Participating in the annual pruning competition means you can motivate and incentivise your staff with a fun day out to look forward to as well as the potential to win something!

Bringing the industry together is a brilliant way to ensure we all stay in touch, share ideas and take time to reflect on our achievements. The distance and disparity between vineyard sites can cause a lack of communication which is important to overcome. If a sense of fun and light-hearted competitiveness helps to connect us across the industry, we’re all for it…but watch out Team Davenport, we’re going for 1st place this year!


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