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Winter Pruning in the Vineyards

Following the completion of the harvest in late fall and the holiday celebrations in December, the vineyard managers and crews are hard at work, performing the necessary tasks to kick off another successful crop year in Napa Valley.

Pruning each vine to remove the previous year’s growth is critical to the health and performance of the vineyard, and the job must be performed while the vines are still in their wintertime dormancy.

Between December and February, while the vines are leafless, growers can view the entire structure of each vine to shape them properly and control the number of shoots that will later appear on the vine.

This systematic pruning process is beneficial to regulating each vine’s overall vigor and ultimate grape yield.

What Happens with Pruning?

During the pruning process, the previous year’s growth is trimmed back to the main trunk or cane, leaving the desired number of shoots and buds to produce fruit in the coming season. Accurate pruning helps to regulate each vine’s overall vigor and prevents overcrowding, which often leads to disease and reduced quality.

Pruning the vineyards in St. Helena by the expert Wheeler Farm crew is also a critical part of maintaining the vineyard’s trellis system that supports the growth and development of each grapevine.

If you have walked through or driven past vineyards in St. Helena or elsewhere, you likely noticed that trellises or horizontal support systems parallel the vine rows. The frameworks consist of vertical line posts and cordon wires that support the growing vines against wind gusts as their canopies grow and become heavier. Holding each vine upright improves the vines’ exposure to sunlight, spray, water, and air.

The trellis systems also keep the fruit from touching the ground and discourage disease.

Pruning the Vineyards in St. Helena

Winter pruning is an essential step in the annual cycle of grapevine management, helping to ensure healthy growth, high-quality fruit production, and a successful grape harvest. During the process, the worker removes the dead or non-productive wood and damaged vines, keeping the vine at a manageable size and shape for the upcoming growing season.

Visit Wheeler Farms During Your Next Napa Valley Visit

One of the best wineries in St. Helena and Napa Valley, Wheeler Farms is located on a historic property, home to one of the first vineyards in Napa Valley. The current winery owners pay homage to the Wheeler family, whose legacy dates back to the mid-19th Century, by naming their award-winning wines after one of those pioneers, J.H. Wheeler.

For visitors to Wheeler Farms, the J.H. Wheeler Wine Experience is more than a simple wine tasting. This special occasion is a true culinary adventure featuring seasonal savory canapés specially designed by Estate Chef Tom Harder to complement a selection of four (4) J. H. Wheeler wines.

To prepare appropriately for each visitation, Wheeler Farms requests that guests make reservations for their J.H. Wheeler Experience at the winery, one of the best wineries in St. Helena.

Reservations can be made online on the Wheeler Farms Wines website.

For Group Reservations or Special Arrangements, contact Stephanie Farmer, Director of Membership and Customer Relations, at (707)-200-8500 or by email at


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