Pruning Grape Vines

Dateline: 13 May 2015

The Finger Lakes Region of New York (where I live) has numerous vineyards and wineries. In fact, there are currently well over 100 wineries in this area. These wineries and the tourism that they generate, are a big part of the agricultural economy.

But it's interesting to note that when I was growing up here in the 1970's, there were almost no wineries. What changed? Well, the change came about because New York State passed a Farm Winery Act in 1976. The new law allowed wineries to sell directly to the public.  

Imagine that! One of the most government-regulated states in the nation changed the law to allow more freedom and free enterprise. 

While many of the wineries that have sprouted up around here in recent decades are large and showy, a lot of them are very small, home operations. Chateau Dusseau is one local example.  Bob and Steve Dusseau grew up here in Moravia (they are around my age) and their aspiring winery is on a lonely country road.

Personally, I'm not a wine drinker. But I sure do enjoy a glass of homemade Concord grape juice, and my one row of grape vines have produced many such glasses of enjoyment. But, truth be told, I have neglected to prune my vines for the past two years. As a result, they became a dense tangle, and have not produced much of a crop. 

So it was that Futureman (my grandson) and I finally got around to pruning away all the superfluous grape vegetation a couple weeks ago. Actually, I did all the pruning, and most of the picking up, while Futureman played on the tractor and wagon. It was a good time for both of us.


Clinton Johnson said...

You ought to put those trimmings through a chipper, if you have one, (or cut them up small with a pruners)and mulch under your vines! The fungal network (a good thing to have) will break the cuttings down and return the nutrients to the vine, creating a healthier and more vigorous plant. Same thing applies to your orchard...

Herrick Kimball said...

That's a good idea. I don't have a chipper. I've thought of getting one many times but always decide against it because it's another machine to take care of. But I may start looking on Craig's List. I have burned the trimmings over my garden and mixed the ashes into the soil in past years.

Michael Warwick said...

Have you considered using some of your cuttings to root more plants?

Herrick Kimball said...

Yes. But I seem to have my hands full taking care of just one row. And when that row is cared for properly, as was the case in past years, it yielded all the grapes we could possibly use. That said, you make a good point.

vdeal said...


You should look into a chipper for your BCS walking tractor. No extra motor unit to take care of that way. BTW, I planted grape vines last year and they're doing well. Trimmed a bit last year, time to do some more.

SharonR said...

Hm, I wonder if they are as free with the sale of milk from local farms as they are with alcohol? Somehow, and sadly, I have my doubts.

Li'l Futureman, with all his pruning experience this summer may go back and try pruning all by himself. Can't help but smile at that thought, but with my hand over my smile.

Herrick Kimball said...

Good idea.

No. Raw milk from the farm is not as easy to sell in NY as wine from the farm. Too bad, as I'm sure there would be a large market for it.

As you know, raw (unpasteurized) milk is not safe to sell to the public, or so the government tells us. But I'll bet that far less lives have been harmed by raw milk from the farm than are harmed by sales of alcohol from the farm.

Thanks for the comment.

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

We like our raw milk, here in California! Five dollars per half gallon, with three inches of cream! Mmmm! Thoroughly enjoying your Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners!

SheilaG said...

As Michael said, Have you considered making cuttings to root more plants, and I add, TO SELL TO OTHERS? I know someone on Youtube that does that every year with blackberries, and does very well at it too! He's a real hoot, and I know you would love him. He also sells plans for a greenhouse like yours, and has a video on it too. Check out his Blackberry video, and see all the new cuttings he makes to sell too. Bless, Sheila