What should I do with these grapevines?

This is the first spring in our new house. The house has a pretty nice garden area. For some reason that I can’t figure out, there has been a tree growing in one corner of the garden. It could be that it’s there to get some partial shade but there are other areas in the yard that can provide shade. I want to remove this tree and have even started to do so but I ran into a situation that I’m not quite sure how to handle. Looking for a little advice.

Growing along the fence that runs around the perimeter of the garden are some pretty well-established grapevines. From what the previous owner said, they are called skunk grapes. I did a little bit of research and it sounds like they are sweet grapes that are good for making jellies and wine. When the vines make it to the corner of the garden where the tree is, they actually run up the tree.

 

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I’m not sure if I should cut the vines before they meet the tree or if I should somehow try to untangle them from the tree before I cut it down. If I cut them, I don’t know if it will damage the vines. If I don’t cut them when I’m fearful of is that I will have to try to carefully cut the tree and bring it down in sections from the bottom so that I can reach the sections of grape vine. However if I do this, there is a risk that the tree could topple over and yank the existing vines out of place.

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I don’t think I have something tall enough to be able to get the vines out of the tree without doing some cutting.

I really don’t know anything about maintaining grapevines. The question is: can I cut the grape vines before they start running up the tree without doing damage to them?

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