On March 3rd, 2022, a master pruning workshop was hosted in the Columbia Gorge with a lecture at the Hood River Hotel and hands-on workshops at Syncline Winery and Threemile Vineyard. In attendance was a group of viticulturists and vineyard managers from the Columbia Gorge wine-growing area.


The Science of Pruning 

Understanding the theory behind vine pruning techniques is key to sustainable wine grape growing. The basic principal is to work symbiotically with the vines natural growth habits to prevent die back and reinforce health, rather than aimlessly implementing our pre-determined notions of high-yield pruning. 

Biologically, sap flow commences soon after the increase in daily temperatures in early spring. This movement of sap allows the vines to translocate carbohydrates from reserve areas to new points of growth. During the growing season, this sap flow determines: shoot elongation, movement of nutrients, berry ripening, and various other crucial physiological processes.    

Considering this process of sap flow, we learn to prune responsively in a manner that guides the vines’ energy naturally rather than forcing it.

The Workshop

Thanks to the efforts of leading facilitator Sebastian Traviesa from Sunridge Nurseries, a pruning workshop was organized in early March in the Columbia River Gorge to address these techniques of conscious pruning based on sap flow.

Hood River Hotel Class

The event’s teaching was led by master pruner Luca Orselli of Simonit & Sirch and Vine Master Pruning Academy, and began in the Hood River Hotel with an educational presentation. Through an analysis of dissected grape vines, Orselli drew attention to the consequences of improper pruning methods leading to die back and poor vine health.   

To inspire a more innovative approach to pruning, Orselli shared images and statistics from grape growers worldwide who have found success in this new process.


Luca Orselli points out buds and pruning sites based on sap flow at the Syncline Vineyards

Syncline Winery

For the first portion of the hands-on workshop, James and Poppy Mantone graciously hosted the class at their estate, the Syncline Winery in Lyle, Washington. With dramatic basalt cliffs looming over the vineyard, the cultivars were carefully selected to thrive in  this high wind and lean soil terroir.

Floating seamlessly between English and Spanish instruction, Orselli addressed a number of different pruning scenarios on older, aged vines. The attendees closely huddled around the rows in the morning chill, noting the ingenious techniques in practice.

Pruning at Threemile

The final portion of the hands-on workshop was hosted at Threemile Vineyard as the afternoon warmed up and shadows stretched long across the hillsides. Viticulturist Joe Cushman welcomed the group, and humbly shared his successes thus far getting the vineyard planted across the vast, high-elevation terrain. With a couple of unpruned vines saved for the demonstration, Orselli jumped into young vine training via sap flow pruning based practices.


Orselli explainging growth habits in Block G on Marsanne vines.


Orselli and workshop attendees in Block C pruning Grenache vines.

Starting on the lower end of Block G with Grenache Blanc and then moving up to Block C to work on Sangiovese, the group was again captivated, now considering how these practices can be applied to young vines from the early stages of cultivation. 

To learn more about these innovative pruning practices, see Simonit & Sirch and their new training program the Vine Master Pruning Academy. Again, we thank Sebastian Traviesa from Sunridge Nurseries for facilitating this event, and including Threemile Vineyard as we further establish our presence in the grape growing community. 


Videos from the Event