Making sure your grape vine is pruned, is very important for the health of your grape vine, as well as important for your own sanity! If you let a grape vine grow crazy and never prune it, you will end up with a mess of vines of wasted space and less grapes than you should be getting! You can’t just start cutting anywhere though, there are certain easy to follow methods for pruning a grape vine that are easy to follow to make sure your grape vines are primed properly.
Something to keep in mind is when and where grapes grow, which is something most new gardeners aren’t always aware of, is that grapes do not grow on the entire vine. That’s right! Grapes will only grow on first year wood, grapes do not grow on old wood. What does this mean? This means that the new green growth that is growing new this year, will be the only part of the grape vine to produce grapes. The old woody parts of the vine from last year and the years before, will not produce any grapes for you!
Okay…. So, what can I do about it? What you can do is keep the least amount of needed old wood possible. I am going to add a couple of illustrations to this page to help you visualize different ways of pruning grape vines to get the most grapes, in the least amount of room, and without loads of unneeded vines that aren’t going to give you any grapes at all.
You basically want to keep the least amount of the “old wood” of the grape vine possible. You want to keep just enough of your vine for it to go from the ground, up your trellis, and then spread quite a few feet both ways left/right. This we will now call the “base” of your grape vine plant. We will most likely keep this base for the lifetime of our grape vine, and cut all the growth right back to this base each and every year. Every spring your grape vine will begin growing new growth from the old wood “base” of your grape vine, then flower, which will then give you grapes! Once the season is over, and you have collected your grapes, and your grape plant is now dormant for the winter again - you can now do some pruning! We will now cut back all of the newer growth from this year back to our “base” that we kept/created from before. We will do this every year, and again cutting off all that new growth by pruning it yearly. There is no one single way to prune a grape vine, there are a few ways and styles, you can choose which you think will work best for you. As long as you can keep in mind that in the start of your grape plants life during the first year or two it will grow slow and you will have to train it and weave it into your trellis. Since we keep our base every year including the part that goes up into the trellis, we don’t have to worry about training the grape vine every year! Once your grape vine hits three years old, it will typically take off like a rocket growing 10 feet easily in a single year! Good luck to you and pruning! Try not to make it difficult - you can do it!