Rejuvenation Pruning in Grapevines

A vine can live for hundreds of years, however its individual cordons or side shoot positions will not be viable for that long. After several years, they usually have to be rejuvenated by pruning.

With increasing senescence, the side shoot positions on the stem framework become increasingly gnarled and their ends are getting further and further away from the stem framework (Image 01). The annual pruning over many years leads to knots in the wood (connations) which obstruct the sap flow, and often after 5 - 10 years the side shoot positions become useless (Image 02). It is then rejuvenated with a water shoot arising close to the stem. This near-stem, usually vertical water shoot is shortened and future fruiting canes will grow from its basal buds (Image 03). If no water shoot grows from there, try the following: hit the spot with the metal back of the pruning shears (not too timidly!) where you want a water shoot to grow, either on the stem or the side shoot position. This will bruise the spot and a water shoot may grow there...

 

If a side shoot position has died and can no longer be salvaged, it is removed with an approx. 2 - 3cm long stub. The other side shoot positions will initially fill the gap by being cane pruned, which also ensures that there will be sufficient "eyes" along the cordon. The cut surface , however, will lignify and cause a sap flow obstruction in the stem framework. An accumulation of such sap flow obstructions means that at some stage the entire cordon needs removing and replacing with a new shoot. It is best to plan this rejuvenation ahead over about 2 -3 years.

Image 03: Rejuvenation pruning of an older side shoot position on a vertical cordon, historic illustration.
Regenerating vine
Image 04: A wine garland with overmature side shoot positions, partially rejuvenated or in preparation for rejuvenation.
Image 01: An overmature side shoot position
Regenerating
Image 02: Old wall espalier in winter with vertical cordons ("palmettes") and overmature, spur pruned side shoot positions.
cordons
Image 05: Detail of Image 04
Rejuvenation cut in grapevine - details