One of about 30 American species or wild vines with the complete botanical name Vitis cinerea Engelm. ex Millardet. There is a similarity with the species Vitis aestivalis and in the 19th century both were still equated or the Cinerea was considered an Aestivalis variety. Only the German botanist Georg Engelmann (1809-1884) classified Vitis cinerea as an independent species in 1880. Therefore, both Georg Engelmann and the French phylloxera pioneer Alexis Millardet (1838-1902) are mentioned in the botanical name. Today the species is divided into the following five (sometimes six) varieties:
Trivial synonyms are Ashy Grape, Ashy-leaved Grape, Downy Grape, Graybark Grape Sweet Winter Grape, Parra Silvestre, Vigne à Feuille de Clématite, Winter Grape and Wichita. The colour-related names refer to the typical pale grey colour of the young leaves and shoots, a German name is therefore Gray Bark Grape. The vine is found in the Southeast of the USA and grows wild in alluvial forests, along river banks and on fences.
It is the only one of the American species to have complete resistance to phylloxera, as neither nodosities nor tuberosities are formed. This was already recognized by the German oenologist Carl Börner (1880-1953) in 1935. He discovered the wild vine "Vitis cinerea Arnold" and crossed it with Vitis riparia. From seedlings Helmut Becker (1927-1990) selected the first completely phylloxera-resistant rootstock "Börner". The species also has an excellent resistance against nematodes.
Well-known varieties with Vitis cinerea genes include Albania, Bellandais, Bush, Cascade, Chelois, Colobel, Cunningham, Delisle, Donauriesling, Favorite, FR 589-54, Frontenac, Gloire de Seibel, Herbemont, Johanniter (grown in Germany), L'Acadie Blanc, Landal Noir, Landot Noir, Naumburg 5016-37, Oeillade de Conzieu, Rubilande, Seyve-Villard 18-402, Solara, Soleil Blanc, Ventura, Vincent and Vivarais. See also further information under the keywords American Vines and Vine System.