Pruning your grapevines annually can stimulate healthy, vigorous vine growth that produces better tasting crops of grapes. Regular pruning can also increase the air circulation to your grapevines, reducing their risk of contracting fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew and grey mould. Schiava Grossa, Regent, Perlette, Muscat of Alexandria and Siegerrebe are just a few of the many varieties of grapes grown successfully in UK gardens and vineyards.
First year pruning
Wait for the main stem on your grapevines to grow to 3 metres (10 feet) before pruning them for the first time.
Prune the side branches back to just five leaves. Cut the shoots growing from the side branches back to a single leaf.
Cut the main stem back by two-thirds and prune the side branches back to one strong bud when you prune the grapevines in December.
Second year pruning
Let the main stem on your grapevines continue to grow during the summer of their second year of growth.
Wait for two of the side branches to produce at least one bunch of grapes before trimming them back to just two leaves beyond the grape bunches.
Cut the main stem on the grapevines back by half when you prune your vines in December. Prune the side shoots on the vines back to two strong, healthy buds.
Prune the flowering side branches on your grapevines back to just two leaves past the flower clusters. Allow only one flowering cluster to develop on each of the side branches if you are growing a dessert grape variety such as Black Hamburgh and Regent. Let wine grape varieties such as Siegerrebe and Chardonnay develop as many flower clusters as possible.
Cut any non-flowering side branches on your grapevines back to only five healthy leaves. Prune the shoots growing from the side branches back to just one leaf.
Allow as many bunches as possible to develop on wine grapevines, but restrict dessert grapevines to just one bunch on each of the side branches. This encourages the vines to focus their energies on producing a sweeter, tastier crop.
Tie your grapevines to their support systems with gardening wire or string, as needed.
Use sharpened and sterilised pruning shears when pruning your grapevines to prevent the spread of plant diseases.