Course Profile: Professor Andy Walker's class on Viticultural Practices VEN 101B

students on field

A student on fieldStarting in January, UCD Viticulture and Enology students begin the quarter in VEN 101B with a shiny new pair of pruning shears and 10 acres of grapevines to prune on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. 

The first few weeks are a bit haphazard but Professor Walker slowly teaches them the principles and practices of pruning. Week by week, the students skills improve and they get faster and more confident. By the end of the quarter they are not winning speed-pruning contests, but most, if not all, of their fingers have emerged unscathed and they have learned how to prune spur- and cane-pruned vines on a range of trellis/training styles. 

They also develop a sense of how a vine should be pruned and how to balance its vegetative and reproductive cycles while they adjust bud numbers to compensate for high and low vigor positions on vines. They also learn how pruning influences wood rot diseases, crop yield estimates, and fruit quality. Instruction also includes how grapevines are propagated and how to evaluate the quality of grafted vines. All this while dodging rainstorms and scraping Yolo clay loam off of their boots!