Dr. Helmut Becker (1927-1990) studied natural sciences at the University of Mainz and received his doctorate on the biology of phylloxera. From 1952 to 1953 he was a research assistant at the State Viticulture Institute in Freiburg. As successor to Dr. Heinrich Birk (1998-1973), he was head of the Institute for Vine Breeding and Vine Grafting from 1964 to 1989 and of the Department of Viticulture and Beverage Technology at the Research Institute Geisenheim in the Rheingau from 1971 to 1975. Becker was particularly dedicated to the breeding of noble grape varieties, clone breeding as well as to securing the supply of seedlings by introducing sanitary measures and creating legal regulations. Amongst others, he created the new varieties Bolero, Dakapo, Ehrenbreitsteiner, Primera, Prinzipal, Reichensteiner, Rondo and Saphira. He also used Asian varieties, especially the species Vitis amurensis due to its resistance to frost. An important breeding goal was the resistance against both mildew species and Botrytis.
He was also extremely successful in breeding rootstock vines, aiming for complete resistance to phylloxera. Based on the wild vine Vitis cinerea discovered by the breeder Dr. Carl Börner (1880-1953), he created the rootstock named after this discoverer - the first one with a complete resistance to phylloxera, i.e. tuberosity and nodosity. His studies on grafting led to important improvements and new propagation techniques. It is also worth mentioning that he re-selected and revived the historically important and almost extinct variety of Orleans. Becker worked at several universities, collaborated with scientists from all over the world and took part in numerous conferences. Studies and lecture tours took him all over the world, and for a few months he was also a guest scientist in Australia and New Zealand. In 1982 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and in 1986 he was appointed honorary professor. See also under winemaking personalities.