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The joining of the bud from a desired fruiting variety (scion) to the stem of another variety (rootstock) chosen for characteristics such as resistance to phylloxera and adaptation to soils and climate. The grapes and wine of grafted vines retain the organoleptic characteristics of the scion. Below the graft union (where the scion and rootstock are joined) the resistant roots come from the rootstock variety.


Grapevine Vitis species are able to cross-pollinate both in nature and with deliberate human intervention. The pollen from a male variety is applied to the pistil of a female variety to create seeds in the grapes. Each seedling is a unique genetic combination that makes a new variety. This is an ancient process in nature and not a laboratory process like GMO. If that variety is found to be desirable, it is propagated by vegetative means, usually by rooting cuttings from the mother vine.

Hybrid Direct Producer

These are multi-species grapes between European and American Vitis that can sometimes be grown without grafting (ex. Clinton, Jacquez, Cunningham, Concord).


Grapevine phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) is an aphidlike insect that feeds and forms galls on the roots and leaves of North American grapes causing little damage. However, the soft roots of Vitis vinifera did not evolve to tolerate this feeding and its root will decay leading to vine death.

Downy mildew

Called mildou in France this is a disease caused by the fungus Plasmopara viticola that is indigenous to North America where the native vines have developed a tolerance for it. When it travelled to Europe in the 19th century, it caused enormous damage to the crops, esp. those in the regions with high humidity and summer rainfall. French scientists found that spraying the vines with various formulations that included copper sulfate was an effective control.

Powdery mildew

Another North American fungus (Uncinula necator) that became a blight in vineyards planted to European vines starting in the 19th century.
Unlike downy mildew, this fungus does not need rainfall to reproduce and spread in vineyards so it is the main fungal problem in Meditarranean climates. The earliest method of control was to protect foliage and fruit with sulfur sprays.


Acronym of the German word "Pilzwiderstandsfähig", literally meaning "capable of resisting fungi". PIWI Wines are wines from fungus-resistant grape varieties. Varieties that are resistant to vine diseases are therefore grouped together under this name. Resulting from multiple crossings between noble grape varieties and more hardy, even wild vines, these new varieties benefit from a natural resistance to the most devastating diseases of the vine, such as mildew and powdery mildew.


Pierre Galet


Richard G. Leahy


Maurice Bensoussan

  • Vineland
    Une histoire du vin aux États-Unis
    Éditions l'arganier, 2006.

Lucie Morton

  • Winegrowwing in Eastern America
    Cornell University press, 1985.

Fruits Oubliés Réseau

Freddy Couderc

France Culture

Émission Terre à Terre par Ruth Stégassy
29 décembre 2012 - "Les cépages interdits"

Avec : Freddy Couderc , amateur et collectionneur de vin, auteur de Les vins mythiques, de la Cévenne ardéchoise et du bas-Vivarais ; Hervé Garnier , de l’association « Mémoire de la vigne » et Pierre Galet, historien et ampélographe.



Vineyards & resistant grape varieties

Association PIWI

Observatoire National du Déploiement des Cépages Résistants


Association Mémoire de la Vigne


Association Fruits Oubliés Réseau


Bully Hill Vineyards (USA)


Uhudler wine


Confraternita del Clinto (Italie)


Cornell University (USA)