Growing grapes and making wine out of them, has been in practice since the beginnings of farming tradition. In order to maintain a healthy grapevine, it takes work and dedication. Grapevines, like most other plants, require regular weeding, pest control and pruning in order to give a prosperous harvest. Since it can take up to 3 years for a vine to give fruit, this time allows the grower to tame the plants growth “and production- through pruning.

Pruning is simply getting the plant growth to encourage more growth

Pruning is the action of clipping back shoots and cutting excess foliage to control the plants growth and to ensure that no energy is being spent feeding dry or unnecessary plant sections. Grapevines are trained to maintain a consistent plant shape, size and productivity; a process that takes about the time it takes to grow your first harvest.

The Pruning Technique

After the trellis is set up and the grapevine is planted, vines will be permitted to grow from one main shoot that is tied vertically to the trellis. Any other shoots must be clipped back to prevent their growth. After the following dormant period, you must establish what will be the arms of the grapevine where your fruit will grow on. To do this, you tie two of the shoots that emerge from main shoot, horizontally onto the trellis. Make sure to trim back all other shoots to prevent their growth. After this step, the grapevine will begin to take shape on its own, with a pruning during the dormant season to help the plant. Pruning during dormant seasons is crucial to the harvest of healthy and flavorful grapes.

Why Prune: Benefits and Applications of the Pruning Process

Pruning can also reduce the crop production by removing the fruitful buds. By varying the amount that is pruned back will influence the crop level. If too much is pruned back, more shoots will grow on the vine which in turn produces more of a crop and more foliage. The more foliage on a vine results in a shady canopy which provides a poor environment for the grapes to ripen.

If you clip more shoots, your vine will grow smaller, while if you clip less the vine will be bigger. Some trial and error will be needed to find the balance for your growing needs, but it will be effective to maximize production. This will also prevent your grapevine from growing a shady canopy that, if not addressed, can seriously jeopardize grape ripening and resulting quality of the wine you make.

Pruning Tools

Hand tools like loppers, hand pruners, and handsaws are typically used to prune grapevines. The goal for the grapevine owner is to avoid unnecessary injury to the plant. Most likely, when removing shoots that are one-year-old, hand pruners can be used effectively. On the other hand, larger wood should be cut with either the lopper or a handsaw.

Pruning is a fairly simple process that grape growers consistently rely on to obtain plentiful, healthy crops. Even though it will take some time and effort to tame your grapevine, it will be very well worth the effort once you collect your first harvest of perfect wine-making grapes.

Pierre Duponte is a wine making enthusiast. He spends his time teaching others how to make fine wines. For more great tips on pruning grapes or you can get his free mini course on grape growing and how to make wine visit

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