How to Prune Grapevines in the First Year


Grapevines are planted in their dormant season and resemble small sticks with roots. The first year is important in the training of grapevines along their supports, which are commonly two posts 10 feet apart with two wires running between them. The wires should be 3 feet and 6 feet off the ground, and they need to be in place before planting your grapes.

Step 1

Cut back the grapevine back with a knife after planting in the spring. Leave two or three buds on the vine.

Step 2

Loosely tie the strongest cane to a supporting stake once growth starts. This will be the main trunk of the grapevine.

Step 3

Cut back the weaker of the two canes. Leave one bud on this branch just in case the other cane does not perform like you expect.

Step 4

Train two branches to grow along the lower wire once the trunk reaches it. These branches should have at least five buds on each of them.

Step 5

Train two more branches along the upper wire when the trunk reaches this level. Remove all other shoots but these four branches.

Step 6

Pinch off all flowers during the first year. This allows the grapevine to direct all its energy into growth rather than fruit production.

Tips and Warnings

  • If your grapevine does not reach the first wire during the growing season, cut it back so it only has two or three buds. Allow the grapevine to start over the following year. Do not leave grapevines untrained and unpruned. Ignoring your grapevines will result in a tangle of unproductive branches.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Support stake
  • Grape trellis with wires


  • "The Garden Primer;" Barbara Damrosch; 2008
  • University of Missouri Extension: Grape Training Systems
Keywords: grapevines, pruning, training grapevines

About this Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.