How to Winter-Prune a Grape Vine

My Tiny Grape Vine is a bit of star in my garden. It sits in the far corner, quietly doing its thing. And then in September it produces the sweetest, tiniest black grapes you can imagine. It sounds like I don’t really have to do anything but sit here and wait for the Grapes but that’s not entirely true. Over the past year I have poured over many books and fretted over which training system to go for. Not to mention nearly having a mini-breakdown every time I have to prune it. But I think I may have turned a corner. Today, I winter pruned my Grape Vine in readiness for next year’s fruiting season.

Having already decided on the Guyot system I was all geared up to do the Winter prune with confidence. And that’s what I did. As you can see from the photo above all the leaves have dropped off the vine. This makes it much easier to see what you’re doing. The Guyot system allows for the vine to have two ‘arms’ off which the vertical fruiting branches grow. The arms must be one year old and the fruiting branches are this season’s growth – otherwise it won’t work.

So the trick is to earmark two branches from the current season’s growth to make next year’s horizontal ‘arms’. The two branches in the middle look perfect to me. Carefully bend them down so that they are horizontal. It’s a good idea to do this before you make any cuts to ensure they don’t break.

Now that I have my new horizontal arms in place I can snip off last year’s arms along with all of the vertical fruiting branches.

This will leave you with just two horizontal branches. Ideally, you’d want them both to lay flat like the one on the left but this isn’t always possible. The right hand branch will still fruit it just won’t look as pretty.

Then when you’re happy with your pruning, tie the arms in to protect them from the Winter wind. And you’re done!

12 Comments on “How to Winter-Prune a Grape Vine

  1. I am thrilled for you – it looks fantastic! Could you help me decide how to prune mine which I am growing up a post in order to have most of its foliage along the top of the 7′ pergola it is on. It has only been i year but I had two tiny bunches of succulent (German) grapes in October. So basically I need one thick stem eventually , then it can roam quite a way. There is room for a few side ways shoots but people walk either side of this post sometimes! It is a variety which is supposed to grow to 7′ – if it would stop raining I could go and look on the label!
    Would be thankful for a reply!

  2. Very nice. That is such a nice back drop for a grape vine. I am so use to seeing them raised strictly for production on wire. I really like the stone wall.

  3. Good job! I love doing that kind of thing. Haven’t got any grapes, but have several espalier apples, pears and even plums that look great, even leafless in winter.

  4. Pingback: Winter Gardening Hobby | Red Headed Frog

  5. I’ve just spent an hour pouring over my gardening books trying to understand what to do with my grape vine now it has been through one seasons growth.

    I should have come to you first … you make it so much simpler to understand. I’m off to winter prune my vine with renewed enthusiasm thanks to your step by step guide.



  6. Hi my vine is growing up a post that is about 4 ft wide then it grows along a top like a pergoda? Which is the best way to train it as it can’t go too far out otherwise it would be sticking out in the garden and through the arch that we walk through, ad it would be unsupported.
    I was really interested to read your comments and found them helpful.
    Thanks Gill

  7. Pingback: My Tiny Plot » Blog Archive » My Grape Gets an Early Prune

  8. Pingback: How to prune a grape vine | Grow Up Gardening

  9. Thanks for the Great Post. I haven’t got a Grape vine in my garden still hoping to get one this summer. Can’t wait to taste the tiny little grapes. I am thrilled for you. Cheers!

  10. I have tried pruning my grapes last summer now I know the reason why it didn’t turn out so well. Thanks for the good post. Cheers.

  11. I did the pruning as you did all was fine till we got the late frost and it looked as though it had died then it perked up when we got some warm weather, allwas going well with tiny grapes appearing i was so happy then disaster all the grapes died, i was gutted. Does any one know why.