Pruning our Concord grapevine

Sad, saggy twig arbor

In 2004, shortly after painting Henbogle house, we built a twig

where's the house? window, what window?

arbor for the old concord grapevine planted on the southwestern foundation, at which time we gave it a severe pruning.  In 2006, it grew enormous, threatening to overrun the house and collapsing the twig arbor.  In April 2007, we built a sturdy new arbor that would withstand the vigorous growth,

in the beginning there was chaos

and it has performed admirably, allowing a view out the large picture window in the living room, supporting the vine, providing bird perches, and providing cooling shade for the summer.  It has perhaps provided a bit too much shade, making the living room a bit cave like, so it was time to get serious about pruning.

About an hour into the job

We read quite a bit, and chatted with a gardener nearby who has a large grape arbor about how to tackle the vine.  Because we want to manage our vine for both shade and grapes, it has been difficult to determine exactly how to prune them.  The one thing all sources agreed upon was that whatever we did it would be difficult to harm such a vigorous, well established vine.  Most sources said to prune the vine down to three or four leaders, making sure to mark them for pruning the next year.

The weather today was AMAZING, with temps in the mid 50s, skies clear as a bell, with just a light breeze, so today, Dan tackled the job.  We got out the big 8′ stepladder, and Dan began.  He carefully pruned away all the dead branches and selected 4 vigorous-looking leaders stretching along the trellis.  It took about 3 hours start to finish, including clean-up, and was his hand tired even using my sharp Felco pruners.  The difference is amazing and I am extremely curious about how it will look, and how productive the vine will be this year.  I hope we have a good grape year!

More photos of the pruning action below.

in the homestretch

2/3 completed


It was a gorgeous day today, a perfect day to tackle this task.


9 Responses to “Pruning our Concord grapevine”

  1. Daphne Says:

    I used to have grapes and they do want to take over the world, don’t they? I can’t believe our weather either. And it is to continue for a while. I keep going out for walks. I wish the ground was unfrozen so I could dig one of the beds.

    • Ali Says:

      I forgot to take a pic of our spinach, it is looking good! Time to thin it soon. I hope you can get some gardening in soon.

  2. Chris Says:

    I’ve been dying to get a grapevine started. Could you share some of your grape growing wisdom/expertise? How fast do they grow? How much fruit do you get? Where is the best place to plant them? Where did you get the design for that gorgeous arbor?

  3. Brandi Mills Says:

    I had no idea you could even grow grapes in Maine – I didn’t think it warm enough long enough. I might have to try it someday.

  4. jeannie Says:

    Looks great guys! Hey Dan do you remember the grapes we had in back by the old hen house in Brewster growing up?

  5. Leigh Says:

    Definitely like that grape arbor. Actually, that would be a good idea for us too, as I found a concord grape vine buried in some brush after we moved here last year. Can’t find any info on transplanting it, but did find info on starting new vines from cuttings. Something similar in the arbor department may be just the ticket for shading one of our windows.

  6. Doris Says:

    with the weaher so beautifull, I pruned my grapevine today, but now I’m worryd, that I did it wrong. The grapevine is bleeding, water is dripping from the big branch that I pruned.
    Do I have to worry?
    please give your input to this.

    • Ali Says:

      Doris, according to what I learned in my Master Gardening class, it is pretty difficult to harm an established grapevine. I suspect it is “bleeding” sap just because of the warm weather. Normally vines are pruned in March in Maine while still dormant, but well, this winter has been unusual.

      I did learn of a good handbook to cold-climate grape growing from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. You can download it here:
      Good luck!

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