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Grapevine Pruning at a Glance

Here you find some brief guidance for pruning a vine, which has been trained competently in the preceding years. These instructions are also applicable for a vine which wasn't trained properly but is still relatively young (2 - 5 years). With these instructions you can start to bring your vine back into shape. Badly neglected vines, however, will require a more drastic overhaul, called Pre-Pruning or restoration pruning.

Winter Pruning in February / March

1. Recognising previous year's wood: This includes all shoots grown during the previous year. They are usually yellow-brown, ochre or red-brown and have buds at  intervals of 5 - 15cm which, when scratched, reveal their green inside.

2. First pre-pruning: Cut ALL these thin, long canes from the previous year back to about 4 - 6 eyes (buds).

3. Counting the buds: Fruit for next year will only be produced from buds grown on these previous year's canes. How many of these buds are there now per square metre of wall space? You should definitely have more than 20 per sqm.

4. Selecting buds: "Good" canes from the previous year are at least as thick as a pencil and are as close as possible to the thick stems - not at the end of metre-long thin branchings - provided that your vine has some kind of a recognisable stem framework. Now select about 5 - 7 shortened "good" canes per square metre from the previous year, which are to be retained and mark them with eg coloured ribbons. 

5. Second pre-pruning: Cut off all unmarked canes flush with the next thicker cane or cut them off completely right back to the main trunk. This "torture" should have removed about 90% of all branches. 

6. Refined pruning: Prune the remaining marked canes back as follows: in the lower areas to 2 - 3 buds ("Spurs"), and in the upper areas to 4 - 6 buds ("Rods"), so that you end up with approximately 15 - 20 eyes (buds) per square metre of wall space.

Winter pruning: A rather poor stem framework with numerous new shoots from last year. The section to the right has already been pruned.
Winter pruning
After pruning, vine in free fan form.
Pruning a grapevine on a trellis system