UK pruners snip their way to success in annual pruning competition

After three previous podium finishes, Team Gusbourne finally came out on top at the WineGB Pruning Competition, which NP Seymour proudly sponsored.

Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) held its national pruning competition, affectionately known as ‘The Battle of the Secateurs’, on 17 March 2023 at Yotes Court Vineyard in Kent. 

Organised in conjunction with consultancy Vine-Works and Yotes Court’s vineyard manager, Tony Purdie, the competition sees individuals and teams compete for the ultimate accolade: the chance to be crowned ‘vine pruner’ or ‘vine pruners of the year’. 

The competition attracted participants from across Kent and Sussex, who donned their gloves, sharpened their Felco secateurs, and prepared for a fierce contest. Both teams and individuals pruned a minimum of five vines in a specified period of time. Points were awarded for speed, but also for accuracy and precision. 

The pruning was judged by an esteemed panel of industry experts, including Jake Wicks, head of viticulture at Roebuck Estates; Cameron Roucher, vineyard manager at Rathfinny Wine Estate; Luke Wolfe, Director at Agro-Pro; Joel Jorgensen, managing director at Vinescapes; and Matt Strugnell, vineyard manager at Ridgeview Wine Estate. The panel was overseen by Marco Simonit, CEO of training provider and consultancy Simonit & Sirch and author of revered viticulture tome, The Handbook of Vine Pruning

Securing the top spot this year in the team event was Gusbourne’s Kent team, headed up Jim Pritchard. 

Commenting on the win, Pritchard said: “It means a lot – we take this competition very seriously at Gusbourne. We have done every time we have competed. This is our fourth competition: the first two times we came second, last year we came joint third, but this year we finally came out on top. I’m really pleased!”

Last year’s winners, Brenley, secured second place, while Ridgeview came third. 

In the individual competition, Phil Harris, owner of Natalia Harris Vineyard and vineyard manager of Davenport Vineyards, was crowned the champion. Naomi Solomon was second and Jim Pritchard added to his earlier team win with third place. 

Winners were provided with Felco goody bags kindly donated by the UK’s official Felco supplier and leading vineyard machinery specialist NP Seymour. As a WineGB patron, NP Seymour has proudly sponsored the pruning competition every year since the event started. This year’s first prizes included a pair of Felco 8,  911 holster, f602 saw, 703 gloves XL, and a Felco 501 knife. Second place took home a pair of Felco 8, 910 holster, and a 702 gloves XL, while third place received a pair of Felco 8 and 701 gloves XL.

Claire Seymour, Director at NP Seymour, said: “The pruning competition is one of my favourite industry events which we’re very proud to support and supply Felco products to. It’s good to have an annual event which brings vineyard workers together, and it’s lovely to see the people who work hard ‘behind the scenes’ to care for the vines and ensure that they grow the very best grapes which go on to make first-class wines.”

Commenting on the importance of this annual event, Tony Purdie, vineyard manager at Yotes Court, said: “It was a fantastic turnout. The competition is gaining momentum and getting better every year. It really showcases the art of pruning, one of the key jobs in viticulture. It demonstrates the high level of skill we have in the UK.”

Marco Simonit, CEO of Simonit & Sirch, added: “It was a great experience. It is very important to have this competition and for pruners to be the stars of the show. It will help build the level of knowledge and skill required to maintain vineyards in the future. I was impressed by how the competitors respected the vines – for me this is the most important thing.”

Judge and vineyard manager at Ridgeview Wine Estate, Matt Strugnell, commented: “This competition serves as a way to improve the quality of vineyard work. If judges spot mistakes, these are then fed back into the WineGB Viticulture Working Group where they can be addressed and education provided to rectify them. The bar is raised higher for every competition.”

Other sponsors of this year’s event included Agrii, Bedlam Brewery, Felco, Gripple, Hadley Group, NFU Mutual, N.P. Seymour, Pépinières Tourette, Tuckwells and Vineyard Magazine.

For more information on the Felco PowerBlade range of electric secateurs, as well as the other Felco tools NP Seymour offers, please phone the office on 01580 712200 or email