You are using an old browser that may not function as expected. <br><strong>For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.</strong>

Log in Become a Member


See under breeding.

The ancient civilisations of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, Persians and Phoenicians were probably already engaged in the deliberate breeding of plants and thus also grape varieties based on wild vines. The fact that new varieties could be obtained by sowing seeds had probably been known for a very long time. Presumably, the Persians and later the Arabs in the early Middle Ages already deliberately bred large-berried table grapes that spread throughout the Mediterranean region as far as Spain. Modern breeding as a deliberate, manually induced crossing of two parent varieties with the targeted use of paternal pollen probably only began in Christian Europe with the start of botanical systematics, for which Carl von Linné (1707-1778) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) laid the scientific foundations.

Beginning of targeted breeding activities

New grape varieties through targeted breeding activities such as seed sowing or crossbreeding were created from the first third of the 19th century onwards, especially in the greenhouses of England. These were, for example, the table grape varieties Foster's White Seedling and Lady Downe's Seedling. In the middle of the 19th century, many new varieties such as Madeleine Royale and Madeleine Angevine were also created in France, especially in the nurseries of Anger (Loire). Professional crossbreeding then began in the second third of the 19th century. A real boom in the breeding of new fungus-resistant hybrid varieties and vine pest-resistant rootstocks took place in connection with the phylloxera and powdery mildew catastrophe from the 1870s onwards, especially in France, whereby the breeders Georges Couderc (1850-1928) and Albert Seibel (1844-1936), as well as the vine breeding company Seyve-Villard, are to be highlighted in terms of quantity. After the great success of Müller-Thurgau, large quantities of new grape varieties were also created in Germany after the First World War. This led to varieties such as Bacchus, Domina, Dornfelder, Dunkelfelder, Huxelrebe, Kerner, Scheurebe, Siegerrebe and many others.

Breeding goals

The general breeding objective in modern viticulture is to produce grape varieties with certain positive, desired characteristics and traits. New grapevine varieties with better or, in some cases, completely new characteristics can only be produced by generative (sexual) cross-breeding: In this process, two grapevine varieties with desirable parental characteristics are crossed with each other and those plants that best correspond to the desired ideal variety are selected from the seedlings grown. In conservation breeding, existing stocks of varieties with degenerative or viral symptoms are improved by selecting the most vigorous, fertile and healthy vines. These healthy and virus-free individual vines are then propagated en masse by vegetative (asexual) means, while the degenerated, infertile vines are eliminated in the vineyard and replaced by the multiplied healthy clones of top quality(clone breeding).

Once a plant with the desired characteristics has been discovered and selected out, the multiplication of this breeding success represented by only one plant can be carried out by vegetative propagation via cuttings to produce enough clone copies in vine nurseries to stock the vineyards. Due to the extremely pronounced heterozygosity (cleavage) in the species genome of the grapevine, plants propagated by seed sowing split again and thus no longer exhibit the selected characteristics of the mother plant. Therefore, vegetative propagation is the only possibility to maintain a selected variety type and to multiply it unchanged (see in detail under flowering). The CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office) established by the EU or the national authorities are responsible for granting plant variety protection for newly bred grapevine varieties or selected clones in Europe or the individual countries. There are essentially four different breeding strategies, some of which are used in combination with each other. These are cross-breeding, selection breeding, mutation breeding and maintenance breeding.


This is the breeding of new grape varieties by crossing at least two and sometimes several parent varieties by crossing a cross product again (possibly several times). In any case, this is generative (sexual) propagation. The heterozygosity of the grapevine already mentioned above means that the offspring also have different...

Voices of our members

Egon Mark

For me, Lexicon from wein.plus is the most comprehensive and best source of information about wine currently available.

Egon Mark
Diplom-Sommelier, Weinakademiker und Weinberater, Volders (Österreich)

The world's largest Lexicon of wine terms.

26,079 Keywords · 46,829 Synonyms · 5,323 Translations · 31,413 Pronunciations · 187,012 Cross-references
made with by our author Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer. About the Lexicon