INSIDE THE VINE: Spurs and Canes

While enjoying your scenic drive through wine country at the peak of grape growing season, you may only notice the full leaves and the beautiful fruit on the vines. But when the vines go dormant, their basic anatomy is revealed to the interested onlooker.

Each grape vine includes three basic components: the cordon, the spur, and the cane. A cordon is a permanent branch or the trunk of the grape vine. A spur, like the one shown here, is a shortened stub at the head of the vine’s trunk. Each individual spur is originally a new growth shoot from a previous vintage that is pruned back, so that new growth will occur during the growing season. Spurs are usually spaced six inches apart, which allows growth and fruit to appear without overcrowding, and their spacing helps keep the vines healthy, aerated, and exposed to maximum sunlight.

This particular spur is three to four years old and has supported the new shoots for each vintage. You can tell the age of the spur itself by its textured bark. Since smooth wood indicates one to two years of age, we can determine that this spur is over two years old.

vine spurs and canes


When the vines shed their leaves after harvest, they begin to go dormant. The young one year old shoots from the previous season become lignified or woody, and are then referred to as canes.

vine cane