Chapter 3

Wine Grape Rootstocks

Rootstock Species

Most rootstocks are either native North American species or hybrids of two or more of these species, including Vitis riparia, Vitis berlandieri, and Vitis rupestris.

North American Species

The North American species commonly used for grafting grapevines are Vitis rupestris, V. riparia, V. berlandieri, and V. champini.

Vitis rupestris

V. rupestris roots deeply, has a long growing season with vigorous growth, so it has often been selected for use in warmer, long season regions.

Vitis berlandieri

Vitis berlandieri is a vigorous climbing vine with strong, fleshy plunging roots. It is very drought tolerant and can also tolerate very low winter temperatures.

Vitis riparia

Vitis riparia prefers cool, naturally fertile, deep soils, well supplied with water. It does not do well in calcareous or drought prone soils since the roots grow laterally.

Vitis champini

Vitis champini is a natural cross between V. candicans and V. rupestris. It has been used directly as a rootstock (Dog Ridge and Ramsey) and as a parent in Harmony and Freedom.

North American Hybrids

Since the Vitis species described above often had desirable and undesirable characteristics, cross-breeding was implemented in an attempt to combine the desirable traits. Of the many hybrids (breeding 2 or more varieties) attempted, most of the better results as described came from some specific crosses.

V. riparia X V. rupestris

Rootstocks derived from these crosses prefer deep, fertile and moist soils. These rootstocks offer low-moderate vigor to the scion and in certain situations hasten ripening.

V. berlandieri X V. riparia

These rootstocks offer moderate-high vigor to the scion depending on the soil type. However, rootstocks in this group are more vigorous than those from V. rparia X rupestris crosses especially under available precipitation.

V. berlandieri X V. rupestris

These rootstocks offer moderate-high vigor to the scion, are drought tolerant, and best adapted to warm to hot regions. These rootstocks are suited to a wide range of soil types of low to moderate depth and fertility.

Click on the following topics for more information on wine grape rootstocks.