The French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) undertook a program starting in 2000 to create wine grape varieties possessing sustainable resistance to the main fungal infections that affect grape vines.
This project has just led to four new varieties with natural resistance to mildew and ash disease, and whose wine quality is equivalent to traditional wine grapes, in the official catalogue of grapes varieties. The grape vine varieties, whose names are Artaban, Floreal, Vidoc and Voltis, open the door toward a wine industry that is more successful and respectful of the environment, while drastically reducing the use of phytosanitary products.
These four varieties are the fruit of crossing between different source plants selected by researchers at INRA and a partner institute in Germany. These “parent” plants were chosen for the qualitative properties and their different origins of resistance. This hybridization strategy allowed for the association of two resistance genes to mildew and two others to ash disease. This means that the plants will have resistance coming from multiple different genes, which makes the resistance significantly more durable over time.
The four varieties (two red and two white raisins) are completely resistant to ash disease and highly resistant to mildew, allowing for a decrease of 80 to 90% in the use of fungicidal chemicals. Additionally, in taste tests the wines are rated as very similar to control varietals.