After pruning by hand in Naoussa

Pruning is perhaps the most important vineyard task since the vine dresser intervenes to determine:

• the growth of the vine
• yield and volume of grapes per vine stock
• the vine’s total yield
• (to a great extent) the quality of the wine to be produced

Depending on the pruning technique followed, the vines are trained into:

• in “guyots”
• “cordons”
• “goblets”
• “baskets” (kouloures)
• “trailers” (aplotariès)
• “tendones” (krevatines)

Pruning requires skill and experience, scientific and empirical alike, and techniques take into account the peculiarities of the Greek vineyards. Strong winds in many areas, for instance, force vintners to prune their vines low, close to the ground. In some Cycladic islands, the strong summer northerly winds (meltemia) can lay to waste the linear plant arrangements and inflict damage at both budding and fruiting time. On Santorini, “kouloura”, the wreath-like “basket” technique was developed to address precisely that problem. On Paros as well as on other islands, vine dressers train their vines into “trailers” (aplotariès) allowing the branches to trail and grow on the ground so as to protect their excellent yet limited yields.

The importance which vintners attribute to pruning is seen in the establishment of Agios Tryfon as patron saint of the task. In icons, the saint is depicted holding secateurs. Vintners, especially in northern Greece, celebrate his name day on February 1 with many customs and festivities that have their roots in ancient beliefs about vegetation and fertility.