“What are they doing in the vineyard?” is one of the most posed inquiries from guests observing the vineyard crew as they work within the rows of vines throughout the vineyard.

Each grapevine in a vineyard is touched by human hands an average of 17 times throughout the year — an astonishing effort considering Knudsen Vineyard, at 125 acres planted and producing, hosts more than 229,000 vines.

aerial photo of vineyard

To appreciate the vineyard cycle, it helps to understand the grapevine, which by nature, seeks to sprawl and to grow ever higher. In limiting the scale of the vine, the vigneron seeks to produce a concentrated mass of high quality grapes appropriate to the soil and water resources. 

December through February each grapevine is carefully pruned back from the previous season’s growth leaving the appropriate amount of plant material to produce a desired amount of fruit.  Click here to learn more about winter pruning.

In about April, as winter turns to spring and prior to budbreak, additional pruning is performed to direct the vines along the trellis wire and to further aid in achieving the proper fruit yield.

Buds beginning to swell in early April of 2020. Notice on the far right of the image, a fastener which assists in directing the vine along the trellis wire.

Vine growth by the end of May in 2020 — each vine has developed into a small shrub, and they continue to climb! In just a few weeks they will reach the top wires (approximately 5 ft), after which point they will be hedged to manage excessive growth.

Throughout the spring (May and June), several more passes through the vineyard are made to remove excess growth such as suckers growing at the base of the trunk. Thriving shoots are also positioned on vertically positioned trellis wires in such a way as to optimally capture sunlight and encourage air circulation.

During summer months, the keen eyes of the vineyard crew are kept on each vine, and additional work is performed to remove excess foliage. Vine hedging and leaf-pulling are continual efforts to expose the fruit to sunlight and airflow.

 Pinot noir fruit development by mid-July of 2020.

Did you know that all grapes begin their life green in color? As the late summer months arrive (July and August), Pinot noir grapes begin to change color, signaling the onset of ripening. This process of color change is referred to as veraison. In the weeks leading up to harvest, decisions may be made to “green harvest” or trim excess grapes from the vines, to aid in ripening an optimum amount of fruit with consideration to the season’s conditions.

And finally depending on the season’s growing conditions, harvest could start as early as late August and could last through early November. The timeline for picking grapes depends on a number of factors including weather, and is specific to each vineyard’s plantings including the variety of grapes, desired style of wine, and vineyard elevation.

photograph of red wine grapes