This grape variety designation dates from the early Middle Ages and does not designate a single variety, but a group. It is a designation of origin that supposedly goes back to the Franconian king Charlemagne (742-814). After the conquest of Gaul, the Franks brought the local "nobler" varieties from what is now France to Germany, where they were later called "Frankish". The first explicitly mentioned were Moreillon(Pinot) in 1283, Traminer (Savagnin Blanc) in 1349 and Riesling in 1435, as well as the old varieties Elbling, Orléans and Silvaner. Together with the Hunic varieties, the Franconian varieties belong to the most important gene pool of many of today's standard European vines.
In the Middle Ages the Franconian varieties were generally considered the "better" or more valuable and the Hunic (Hunnish) varieties the "lesser" vines. The most important Franconian varieties were Traminer and the Pinot varieties (especially Pinot Noir), which were the starting point for numerous Pinot varieties through mutations and natural crossbreeding, especially with white Heunisch(Gouais Blanc). The close proximity of Heunisch, Traminer and Pinot in the Mixed Set in the vineyards of the Middle Ages encouraged this development by accidental crossing of closely related varieties. Count Eberhard of Württemberg III. (1362-1417) recommended in 1409 that his farmers grow half Heunisch and half Fränkisch in their vineyards.
The healer and mystic Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) wrote "that the Franconian and strong wine makes the blood boil and therefore has to be mixed with water, whereas this is not necessary with the Hun and naturally watery wine". Possibly, "Hunnish" does not refer to the Asian tribe, but it should be noted that "Hunish" in Low German meant "huge or big" and that this meant the "smaller and big-berry" grape varieties. The Heunisch was characterized by high fertility, vitality and vigor - it is considered a "historical mass carrier". Since in the Middle Ages the main focus was on yield, it was propagated vegetatively over large areas.
In old sources, the "noble varieties" are called "franconian", "Franke", "Francia", "Francica", "Fren(t)sch" and similar, often supplemented by the berry colour or berry or grape size. Confusingly, different varieties were often given the same name. However, it also happens that a variety has different names. The name Großfränkisch was used for Chasselas, but also for Räuschling. In 1546, this name is also mentioned in the "Kreütter Buch" of the famous German botanist Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554). Under the there also mentioned Green Franconian is possibly meant the Silvaner. However, this was also called Frankentraube (also for Blue Hängling, Räuschling, Tauberschwarz). In the meantime an independent variety of this name has been identified.
Old names for the Traminer (Savagnin Blanc) or the varieties Gewürztraminer and Savagnin Rose were Adelfranke, Kleinfränkisch, Rotfränkisch and Weißfränkisch, but also French, Frenschen, Frenscher, Frentsch and similar. But also the old variety Grünling (which is probably identical with Sauvignon Blanc) was called Adelfranke and similar. Under Black Franconian the Austrian variety Blaufränkisch i meant. Further two independent varieties with the name part "franconian" are Adelfränkisch and Vogelfränkisch.