[Information based on DipWSET D1 material]

Rootstocks. Not all vines are planted on rootstocks, but the vast majority of them are. While the original reason for using rootstocks was to prevent agains phylloxera, today there’s a wide range of rootstocks that can influence vine—and grape—characteristics. As mentioned in Dealing with Pests, most rootstocks are hybrids, today bred to take advantage of some useful qualities of both parent species.

Not Pestered by Pests: And I’m not just talking phylloxera. There are some rootstocks that are tolerant of root-knot nematodes (which, as we know, once a nematode is in your soil, there’s not getting rid of them). Ramsey and Dog Ridge (both Vitis champini) are two examples of rootstocks that are tolerant of root-knot nematodes.

Water Availability Issues: Rootstocks that are hybrids of V. rupestris and V. berlandieri, such as 110R or 140R, are able to push roots really deep really quickly, so are more tolerant of drought conditions. Conversely, rootstocks based on V. riparia, such as Riparia Gloire, are tolerant of water- logged soils.

Salty Salt Balls: V. berlandieri-based rootstock, like 1103 Paulsen are tolerant of soils with higher levels of salinity.

Soil pH: 99R and 110R, both hybrids of V. rupestris and V. berlandieri are specifically tolerant to acidic soils (low pH levels); on the other hand, rootstock 41B (based on V. berlandieri) is tolerant of soils with high pH.

Vigor: Low-vigor rootstocks, such as 420A and 3309C (based on V. riparia) can advance ripening (useful in cool climates). High-vigor rootstocks like 140R (above) are advantageous for increasing vine vigor and overall yields (helpful in areas with low-fertile soils and/or dry conditions). The choice to use a low or high-vigor rootstock can be based as much on wine style as it is on environmental factors. For example, a high vigor rootstock may be utilized specifically for grapes intended for sparkling wine—high yields with subtle aromas and high acidity is better than lower yields with more concentrated flavors/aromas/tannins.

That’s it. I just wanted to talk rootstocks for a second. Let me know if you have anything else to add…

And thanks again for studying with me!

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