Phase 3: Lifecycle of the Vine – Pruning & Dormancy

Published by Tamara Harrison - 28th Jul 2019

When you drive past a vineyard in Winter it’s easy to think the brown sticked vines standing completely naked with not a single leaf to be seen are either hibernating in a state of serene dormancy or they’re dead.  

The truth is actually, neither. Dormant vines may be having a slumber during the chilly season but they’re not fully asleep. 

Luke Tocaciu’s vineyard in Coonawarra

What’s happened just a few weeks ago, underground in the root system and in the vines cells, is a flurry of activity to prepare the twigs to weather the cold winter months ahead. These are potentially bleak times that could include freezing temperatures, snow, hail, and torrential rain.

Luke Tocaciu’s vineyard in Coonawarra

Very cleverly, energy reserves were accumulated by the vines immediately after the grapes were harvested allowing the vine with its rapidly dwindling leaf canopy to concentrate on other things  – like survival! During this time the vine sends out new roots pulling in vital nutrients that are stored in the vine in preparation for the freezing days ahead.

And there’s other natural defences happening in Winter too. The grape vine stops taking up water through its root system and then it has the ability to take existing water from its critical plant cells and transfer it to other parts of the vine where it can freeze and not cause damage. Phewww!

Luke Tocaciu’s vineyard in Coonawarra

Right now around Australia most vineyards have been pruned leaving a predetermined number of buds on each shoot on the vine – an accurate guide to the resulting yield of grapes once the vine roars back into life in Spring time. 

After a couple of months of dormancy the temperatures start to steadily rise and all the stored water and starch goodness surge through the vines trunk and branches once again – and the lifecycle kicks into action as it has done for thousands of years.

Vitis Vinifera (the humble grapevine) is a truly incredible piece of work!

Cathy & Neil Howard‘s vineyard in Geographe 


  • Read about Phase 1 (Budburst) and Phase 2 (Harvest) in our Lifecycle of the Vine series.
  • Angels, invite a friend to join Naked Wines! They’ll receive $100 off their first case, and you’ll get a little extra credit in your Naked Wines piggy bank. Everyone’s a winner!