News Feed Forums Fruit and Nuts Propagating Vitis Vinifera seedlings Reply To: Propagating Vitis Vinifera seedlings

  • Greg Pennyroyal

    July 13, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Jackie, it’s an interesting theory but there are some physiological, biological, and legal challenges.

    The first is genetic. Vitis vinifera is a genius that has the sub varietals, for example, Cabernet or Zinfandel, defined by clonal selection. The seeds no longer produce true to the clonal selection which in plain terms means if you get seeds from a Zinfandel Vitis vinifera you won’t get Zinfandel you’ll get something much further back in the genetic history. Secondly, grapes are Diecious, which means the male and female parts are found in the same flower which makes F1 hybrids much more of a challenge.

    The second challenge is old world Vitis vinifera does not have the genetic protections to new world pests and alternately can import pests into the new world from the old world that we do not have biological checks and balances for. This is why the Department of Agriculture is seemingly uptight about bringing in genetic material when in actuality it’s a real potential threat. Another issue is if you’re going to be propagating from cuttings you will be doing own-root in other words not using rootstock from Vitis Vera without some American genetics for example Vitis ripestra are notoriously prone to phylloxera which wiped out a significant portion of the world’s wine grape supplies approximately 100 years ago.

    There is a way to get material into the country. The best way is to start with a nursery that has material that is certified as disease resistant in their country of origin. It can then be brought into a certified nursery or a foundation plant services out in Davis CA to be grown and isolation for three seasons to monitor for the expression of diseases. An alternative this is to have a sample set to a plant genetics lab which can carefully dissect single apical cells from the buds and grow out new plants from these clonal selections. Apical cells which are the equivalent of stem cells in humans, do not carry viruses or diseases. Either process is a relatively involved and expensive process. We are doing the first process for three Spanish clones and our estimated budget is 18 to $20,000 per clone.

    Randall Graham previously from Bonnie Doon vineyards has an interesting grapes from seed genetic experiment that he is conducting which is not actually trying to replicate an existing varietal but growing a massive amount of genetically open from seed Vitis vinifera in a specific climate and then over many generations selecting out positive traits to eventually get to a new varietal. He’s doing interesting stuff and if that’s the direction you want to go with seeds I would highly recommend contacting someone in his staff.

    Hope this helps Greg pennyroyal vineyard manager Wilson Creek