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A previous answer doesn't answer my question. I have a similar situation with a new house and long neglected vines, except with my vines, there was no trellis, and the vines were growing high into the trees. I probably have 25 feet of thick old vine before there is any new foliage.

How drastically can I prune these old vines?

I decided to build an overhead trellis that I can walk under rather than a fence type, (but I'm not sure now if my idea will work right now that I have done more research and reading).

Any suggestions?

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I've got much younger grapevines here on our farm so I've not had to deal with anything like what you are describing but you can saw those back quite severely when dormant and they'll regrow just fine - it'll just take awhile. No doubt they've got a terrific root structure on them. There might be a grape expert here that can confirm this but from what I've seen, grapes will bounce back quite well.

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I had exactly the same problem several years ago with neglected grape and muscadine vines. I used a pruning saw and loppers on mine. The first year I cut them back by about 30-40%. The next year, about 30-40% of what was left. The third year they were easily trained to a trellis and produced really great fruit. Best time to prune is when they are dormant in late winter or early spring.

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