Before the advent of automated machinery, vineyard tasks done by hand in the Greek vineyards continued a time-honored tradition of centuries.
The vineyard tasks done by hand that are still seen in Greece’s winegrowing areas are crucial for the production of premium wines. The main vineyard tasks done by hand are:
- The picking of the grapes, a manual task carried out almost to the exclusion of other harvesting methods in practically all of Greece’s winegrowing areas. All varieties are hand-harvested as it is gentler on the grapes than mechanical harvesting is.
- Pruning, a task whose art requires winegrowing experience and skill and is carried out by experienced vine dressers who are intimately familiar with the particularities of each grape variety and use special pruning equipment and grapevine secateurs that will not “wound” the shoots. There are many unique types of pruning, with the wreath-like “kouloura” of Santorini being the most characteristic one as it also requires that the vine dresser also knows how to “weave” canes or spurs by hand.
- Due to the steepness of terrain in many mountain vineyards, using mechanical equipment (cultivators, tractors, motor hoes etc) is eextremely difficult. As a result, vineyard tasks done by hand are a must. Especially in the case of vines planted on stone terraces (pezoules), tasks are exclusively carried out manually.
Nevertheless, winegrowing in Greece does keep abreast of developments and vine cultivation techniques have been modernized in recent decades. So, wherever feasible and as long as the quality of the grapes produced is not compromised, mechanical, state-of-the-art equipment is employed. Yet, even then, the relatively small size of the vineyards necessitates that vignerons engage in vineyards tasks done by hand throughout the year. Such tasks are:
- drainage management
- spur pruning
- shoot management
- bud management
- leaf canopy management
- green harvest
- selective sprayings