The Selection of Vine Cultivars

Vine selection is as old as vine culture itself; for example, selecting vines with hermaphrodite flowers from the dioecious wild vines. As vine culture spread, vines were selected according to their level of adaptation to their particular environment and to the types of wine required in that region. This gave rise to the large range of varietals that we have today. Up to the nineteenth century, selection was carried out by importing foreign varietals and by Mass Selection methods. Now these have been superseded by hybridisation, mutagenesis, and clonal selection.

The criteria used in vine selection are:

  • Adaptation to the climate; cold, short growing season, drought etc.
  • Resistance to disease; Phylloxera, nematodes, mildews, Oidium, Botrytis.
  • Adaptation to soil conditions; lime, drought, acidity, salt (most important for rootstocks)
  • Economic characteristics: high yield, high quality, good grafting possibilities, mechanisability