The white grape variety probably originates from France. About 180 synonyms testify the great age and the wide distribution of the vine. The most important ones, grouped alphabetically by country, are Bauernweinbeer, Bettschisser, Bordenauer, Borzenauer, Branestraube, Braune, Braune Traube, Burgegger, Burger, Dickweiße, Dickwiss, Frankenthaler, Grobes, Grobes Saures, Grobwein, Grobweißer, Hensch, Heunisch, Heinisch, Heinsch, Hensch, Hentschler, Heunscher, Heunschler, Hinschen, Hintsch, Hunnentraube, Hunsch, Hünsch, Hunschrebe, Huntsch, Hynsch, Hyntsch, Kleinberger, Laxiertraube, Mehlweiß, Quadler, Scheißtraube, Thalburger, Thalburger Grünling, Weißer Zapfner, Weißgrobe, Weißstock, Wippacher (Germany and/or Austria); Blanc de Serres, Bon Blanc, Bouillan, Bouillaud, Bouilleaud, Enfariné Blanc, Foirard, Gauche Blanc, Goe, Goet, Goez, Goix, Gôt, Gouche, Gouche Blanche, Gouest Sauge, Gouet Blanc, Gouette, Gouget Blanc, Goys, Gros Blanc, Gueuche Blanc, Lisoera, Lombard Blanc, Moreau Blanc, Mouillet, Petit Gouge, Plant de Séchex, Plant Madame, Président, Provereau Blanc, Verdet, Verdin Blanc, Vionnier (France); Blanció, Liseiret, Preveiral (Italy); Belina, Belina Drobna, Krapinska Belina, Pikanina Bijela (Croatia); Branco Valente, Gigante Branco (Portugal); Gouais Jaune, Gwäss (Switzerland); Hajnos (Hungary).
Despite seemingly suggestive synonyms or morphological similarities, it should not be confused with the Orléans (Hartheunisch) or Ranfol varieties. The numerous grape varieties with the name part "Heunisch" are not all related to each other. Most of them have no meaning anymore and are only in vineyards for historical reasons (e.g. Geilweilerhof and Domaine de Vassal). The variety Gouais Blanc (France) is genetically identical to Weißer Heunisch (Germany), although the development of the two varieties has been different.
Many of the synonyms have been used, sometimes "cross-named", for several varieties of Heunisch. The German name Heunisch dates from the early Middle Ages, and is said to have been first mentioned in the 11th century as "hunisce druben". It associates to the Huns and that it was supposedly brought to Europe by them. However, this hypothesis is difficult to prove. For many centuries, the terms "Heunisch" (for "coarse") and "Fränkisch" (for "fine") were the only wine or quality designations and did not refer to a specific variety. A reliable mention was made in 1546 in the famous "Kreütter Buch" of Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554: "Die großen feiste (dicke) Hynische Drauben, welche umb (wegen) ihrer schnelle würckung willen, von etlichen scheiss Drauben genandt werden". The varieties of the Heunisch group:
There are many hypotheses about the origin of the French name. The most likely assumes a namesake commune, with the...