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Fan Training

This training technique, also referred to as 'goblet' / 'gobelet' training is the most common and probably also the oldest technique for training grapevines on walls. It is predominantly used outside wine-growing regions and is inferior to the strict cordon forms, because fans often become messy and unmanageable (earning them the descriptors wild-, irregular-, and free form). Nevertheless, to provide a complete picture of vine training techniques, we present it here.

Grapevine in a loose goblet form / Saxony, around 1960

A fan/goblet vine can be more or less branched and varied, and can be encouraged into an extensive stem framework- in order to frame windows, for example. You'll want to limit the number of arms and branchings, however, to ensure a space of 0.5 to 1.0 metres between them at the outer edge of the vine. For optimal results (i.e a good yield), we prune differently depending on the level of the vine: we spur (short) prune the lower area,  rod (medium-long) prune the middle zone, and cane (long) prune the upper canopy. This can be a bit tricky for beginners, and unfortunately, the situation can quickly become messy and confusing if the trunk frame and arms are not clearly separated -- usually a result of insufficient pruning knowledge or experience.


Fan-trained vine on a wooden or wire espalier
Training of grapevine
Small vine in fan form, long-pruned (cane-/ arched cane pruned); the canes that will fruit have already been trained and tied in a roughly horizontal form.
Curved cut (arched cane pruning) on a fan
Training of a fan vine on a wire rope mesh similar to cable system 5030, stage of development approximately the same as shown in Diagram 09 (see below)
Development of a fan vine
Grapes on a vine in fan form
Grapes in Meißen / Saxony
Winding/curving stem-shapes can soften the rigid espalier grid.
Grapevine in free fan form on trellis wires
Vine in Uckrow / Germany
Free forms after winter pruning
Fan-form for vine plants
Old, thriving goblet
Old grapevine
Grapevine in widely-branching fan shape
Fan-trained grapevine
Young vine in its 4th year after winter pruning, as illustrated in Diagram 11 (see below)
Training grapevine
Old grapevine in fan form
Vine on a farmhouse
Old grapevine, probably "Royal Magdalene"
Grapevine on a house - free-form development
Bud burst and young shoots in spring
Even a dense stem/trunk framework such as this is possible. In fact, many grape varieties thrive with a lot of old wood, as it stores sugars and promotes the vine's vitality
Old house-grapevine
Fan-trained vine after winter pruning
Pruning of grapevines
Vine stock in fan form

Forming your goblet...

1st/2nd Year

Diagram 01: Growth and thinning in the first year
Diagram 02: Winter pruning in 1st / 2nd year
Diagram 03: Budding in the spring of the 2nd year. Shoot growth arising from the 5 remaining buds.

3rd Year

Diagram 04: Grapevine at the end of the 2nd year with small main trunk and 5 well-matured canes, here already shortened by summer pruning.
Diagram 05: The upper 2 shoots are cut off and the lower ones are trained into cordons.
Diagram 06: Starting with only 3 stems has the advantage that the framework is light (breathable) at the base and will not become too dense.
Diagram 07: The shoots are carefully bent apart and tied in the desired direction onto the trellis. Winter prune to 8 - 10 spurs.
Diagram 08: On each arm, 3 - 4 buds spaced approx. 20 - 40 cm apart are kept for future shoots. 1 - 2 buds are kept at the end of each cordon for extension. Buds on the cordons are loosely spaced, i.e., 20 - 40 cm for future vertical shoot positions. Superfluous (unused) buds are broken off.
Diagram 09: Budding. The shoots used for arm extensions are bent and tied into the desired position in summer, so bending is no longer required in winter. Generally, all canes can keep their grapes.

4th Year

Diagram 10: Winter pruning. The outer (end) shoots, which will extend the arms, are trimmed back to approx. 8 - 10 nodes/eyes and tied to the trellis. The side shoots (future branches) are spur-pruned to 2 eyes.
Diagram 11: Most of the buds or young shoots that will extend the arms are again removed. Only 1 - 2 buds are kept per shoot for another arm extension and branching. And again, buds are kept approx. every 20 - 40 cm for future branches.
Diagram 12: Bud burst / young shoots. This is how a fan should be planned ahead: you have to bear in mind the bud arrangements, so that the canes arising from the arms are not growing too close together. Otherwise, the shoots will hinder each other year after year during bud burst. Apart from that, this technique is rather uncomplicated and less rigorous to manage than other training techniques. Later on, the side shoot positions are spur pruned, while further up in the canopy and on its outer edge, rod pruning and cane pruning (arched cane pruning) are used.