The difference between spur and cane pruning

Published by Tamara Harrison - 6th Aug 2019

It’s pruning time! This is when all the vines are cut back to allow the strongest shoots to thrive. Neil Howard (one half of Boots & All in Geographe WA) has been busy both ‘spur’ and ‘cane’ pruning, and the other half of the winemaking team, Cathy, has taken a few moments to explain the difference to us!

Pruning a critical part of the winemaking process. A well-pruned vine will produce grapes which will ripen easily as there is just the right amount of grape bunches on each vine. A well-pruned vine will also produce grapes with the flavours and tannin structure to produce the wine styles that we want to make. A well-pruned vine also makes the winemaker’s job a whole lot easier to do too! 

Spare a thought for the 1000’s of pruners working around Australia right now in the rain and the cold and the mud. These vines are being set up right now for next year’s vintage

Neil is busy again this weekend, pruning, pruning, and pruning. Earlier in the week, he was SPUR pruning our Cabernet Sauvignon here, and today he is in our Cowaramup Vineyard, CANE pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon there.

Pruning is all about creating a balanced vine. Watch any gardening programme and when they do a segment on pruning fruit trees, espaliering fruit trees, pruning roses, and pruning and training wisteria, it all comes back to balance, choosing the strongest shoots to keep, creating an even and symmetrical shape and leaving shoots at a length that will produce the best sized fruit, or flowers in the case of wisteria.

SPUR pruning is pruning a grapevine leaving short, two bud spurs, evenly spaced and pointing up along each permanent cordon arm of a grapevine (The first two photos below)

CANE pruning is much more labour intensive, and involves selecting the two strongest and well formed shoots on either side of a wine, trimmed to a length which has the right number of buds on each side to produce the grape bunches required, and these two shoots are then wrapped tightly, or wound around the cordon wire to form a cordon cane. (The third and fourth photos)

Pruning is a skill that takes many years to master and it’s a critical part of making high quality wines year in and year out. You would have heard the saying, that a great wine starts in the vineyard. This is due not only to the soil and climate that the vines are growing in, but it is also influenced by how those vines are pruned and looked after. With pruning, just the right number of buds left in just the right places and evenly spread along the wire, for each and every vine means that the vine can fully ripen it’s grapes without becoming stressed. This makes the winemaker’s job so much easier really, to produce a well balanced wine, full of varietal and terroir specific flavours. 




  • Follow Cathy & Neil Howard’s winemaker page for more educational wine updates and news behind the scenes of their WA vineyard.
  • Invite a friend to join you as an Angel. They’ll receive $100 off their first case, and you’ll get a $30 added to your Naked Wines piggy bank. Everyone’s a winner!
  • Not yet an Angel? Find out what it’s all about at