Winter pruning the grape vines

1vines to prune 1Snow was threatening today. Just when I thought it was going to warm up a bit and make me race about doing all sorts of fun things in the sun.

Whenever I get an inkling of spring-like weather I always fear I’m too late for the vine pruning. Of all the jobs I do, this one is very much weather specific.

You can’t prune vines when the weather warms up as the sap rises and the vines bleed and bleed.  Not blood, but sap. And the only time I’ve ever cut a vine in spring I discovered just how alarming it is to see liquid dripping out of the cut surface.

So out came the ladder, the secateurs and the wheelbarrow and off I went.

I kept looking up anxiously hoping it wouldn’t snow too heavily while I got to work.1vines to prune

Every time I see this pergola in the courtyard I wince. It is rickety and leaning and I suspect the grapes hold up the supports, rather than the other way round. It is built of chestnut poles and the construction is terribly rustic.

It doesn’t take long to do all the pruning; but you have to choose whether to cut right back to the old wood, or leave some longer whippy growth.

The vines do give brilliant shade protection in the heat of summer, but I noticed that there were a few gaps and people were sitting around the table getting fried where it was less than shady.

So I’m training some longer shoots to give more cover.

But I won’t be able to tell until summer if I’ve got the pruning right.