Grapevines are grafted to:

  • Confer resistance to Phylloxera or nematodes
  • Match the plant roots to soil conditions
  • Influence scion vigour
  • Change varieties in an established vineyard (top-grafting)<.li>

Field grafting

This is the traditional practice where the rootstocks are planted in the vineyard first, then top grafted

Bench grafting

This is carried out indoors during the late winter/early spring;

  • Prior to grafting, the cuttings are stored in damp sawdust, and then soaked for 24 – 48 hours before the operation to make them less brittle.
  • Cut rootstocks to 24 – 36 cm lengths with the lower cut immediately below a node
  • Remove all buds, and align them in order of the diameter of the top
  • Scions cut to one-node lengths with 2 cm above the node and 5 – 6 cm below.
  • Align them above the rootstocks according to the diameter of the base
  • Graft, either by hand (whip technique), or by machine (omega technique)
  • Dip top in molten paraffin wax up to just below graft union
  • Store in crates, containing sand or sawdust.
  • Maintain humidity at 90% (but with good drainage) and temperature between 21 - 29ºC for 3 – 5 weeks.
  • Once callusing is complete, remove grafted cuttings and trim off any roots from the scion or shoots from the rootstock.
  • Re-dip in molten paraffin wax
  • Transfer to cold store (1 - 4ºC) or plant into pots and keep at 18 - 21ºC for 7 – 10 days then move to temperate greenhouse.

Grafted rooted cuttings are either sold as bare cuttings that have spent one season in a vine nursery after grafting, or as potted plants that have been ‘forced’ in a greenhouse, and so can be planted out within 10 months of grafting.


These techniques can be used to change cultivars in an established vineyard.

Cleft grafting

Usually carried out on vines less than 15 years old with trunk diameters 2 – 6 cm.

  • Just before budburst, saw trunk 3 cm above graft union
  • Split the trunk to a depth of 3 – 5 cm across its widest point.
  • Insert two wedge-shaped two-bud scions into the slit, ensuring that the cambium layers match
  • Tie up tightly with raffia
  • Cover the graft, either with soil, or with a rigid plastic sleeve filled with sand, and keep covered until callusing is complete (1 season)
  • Keep graft well-watered, but allow excess water to drain away
  • Tie shoots carefully to supporting stake

Cleft grafting can have a good success rate (60 % minimum), with 2/3 of normal harvest expected the following year.

Bud grafting

This is now more common, as it has a higher success rate. Both methods require scion cuttings to be collected in the winter and stored at 1 – 4ºC, 90% humidity.
The two methods most commonly used are chip-budding and T-budding. These two methods can be used in succession in order to ensure success. Note that aftercare of plants is very important:

  • Protect from drought stress and weed competition
  • Remove all suckers
  • Support rapidly-growing (tender) new shoots effectively

Bud grafting works well in warm climates, but is difficult to achieve success with in the UK.