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See under breeding.

Presumably the ancient advanced civilizations of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese, Persians and Phoenicians were already engaged in the conscious breeding of plants and thus also grape varieties on the basis of wild vines. It was probably known for a very long time that new varieties could be obtained by sowing seeds. Presumably the Persians and later the Arabs in the early Middle Ages already deliberately bred large-berry table grapes, which were spread throughout the Mediterranean region up to Spain (Negrul's Proles orientalis). 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 beginning of botanical systematics, for which Carl von Linné (1707-1778) and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) laid the scientific foundations.

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 England's greenhouses. 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 the Madeleine Royale and Madeleine Angevine also appeared in France, especially in the nurseries of Anger (Loire). Professional crossbreeding then began in the second third of the 19th century. A veritable boom in the breeding of new fungus-resistant hybrid varieties and phylloxera-resistant rootstocks occurred in connection with the phylloxera and powdery mildew catastrophe from the 1870s onwards, particularly in France. In terms of quantity, the breeders Georges Couderc (1850-1928) and Albert Seibel (1844-1936), as well as the Seyve-Villard vine nursery, should be mentioned. After the great success of Müller-Thurgau, large quantities of new grape varieties were 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 objectives

The general breeding goal in modern viticulture is to produce grape varieties with certain positive, desired characteristics and features. New grape varieties with better or, in some cases, completely new characteristics can only be produced by generative (sexual) cross-breeding: two grape varieties with desired parental characteristics are crossed with each other and from the seedlings grown, those plants are selected which best match the desired ideal variety. In maintenance breeding, existing 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 in masses by vegetative (asexual) means, while the degenerated, infertile vines in the vineyard are eliminated 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 reproduction of this breeding success, which is represented by only one single plant, can be carried out by vegetative propagation using cuttings in order to produce enough clone copies in vine nurseries for the stocking of the vineyards. Due to the extremely pronounced heterozygosity (cleavage brittleness) in the species genome of the grapevine, plants propagated by sowing seeds split up again and thus no longer exhibit the selected characteristics of the mother plant. Therefore, vegetative propagation is the only way to obtain a selected variety type and multiply it unchanged (see in detail under flowering). The CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office) or national authorities established by the EU are responsible for granting plant variety protection for newly bred vine varieties or selected clones in Europe or individual countries. There are essentially four different breeding strategies, some of which are used in combination one after the other. These are cross-breeding, selection or selection, mutation and maintenance breeding.


This is the new breeding of vine varieties by crossing at least two and sometimes more parent varieties by re-crossing a cross product (possibly several times). In any case, this is generative (sexual) reproduction. The above mentioned heterozygosity of the vine means that the progeny also have different...

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