New Winegrape Cultivars Available

University of California, Davis, releases certified clean grape stock

by Jon Tourney
New FPS building
FPS Director Dr. Deborah Golino reports on the new FPS headquarters building project. The new 5,600-square foot building is being funded through a $1 million donation.

Davis, Calif. — New winegrape cultivars from Mediterranean varieties are now available from Foundation Plant Services (FPS), the national grapevine importation and clean stock facility at the University of California, Davis. These European “public” cultivars have passed disease testing and can be purchased for commercial planting. At its annual meeting Nov. 2, FPS staff also presented updates on facility improvement projects including the new Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard funded by the National Clean Plant Network, and plans to break ground on a new LEED silver-certified FPS headquarters building.

New European vinifera selections

FPS research associate Nancy Sweet discussed new vine materials released by FPS, highlighting Vitis vinifera cultivars with European origins. New cultivars, available from FPS for the first time, include three Greek varieties, two Italian varieties, one Portuguese variety, and one Austrian variety.

Greek cultivars:
• Assirtico FPS 01--A white grape that maintains high acidity even in hot Mediterranean summers. It is planted throughout Greece, and is a major variety on the island of Santorini, where it is used for crisp white wines and dessert wines. Dr. Harold Olmo originally obtained in 1948 from a collection at the University of Athens.

• Fileri FPS 01--Fileri is a polyclonal cultivar grown throughout Greece, particularly in the Arkadia province of the Peloponnese region. The various Fileri clones produce white, red and pink grapes known by different names. This Fileri clone has an intense, distinctive fragrance and produces dry white wines. Olmo originally obtained this clone from Greece in 1948.

• Moschofilero FPS 01--This cultivar's berry color resembles Gewürztraminer, and it can produce white and blush wines with aromatic and Muscat character. FPS imported this clone in 2006 from the Peloponnese region in southern Greece.

Italian cultivars:

• Nero d'Avola FPS 02--Donated to FPS in 2003 from a private vineyard in Mendocino County, the first available plants will go to a designated nursery at the request of the donor, and thereafter, will be available to the public. Sweet said, "Nero d'Avola has been requested for many years, and another clone from Sicily is now in the pipeline and should be available in 2013." The most widely planted red winegrape in Sicily, it produces dark, rich wines with aging potential.

• Vespaiola FPS 01--A white wine variety, this selection came to FPS in 1981 from Ferrara, Italy.

Other new Italian cultivars released include one Nebbiolo clone and one Teroldego clone.

Portuguese cultivar:

• Malvasia Preta FPS 01--A black grape cultivar, sometimes called Mureto or Moreto, Olmo imported this selection to Davis in 1981 from Cockburn Co. of Oporto, Portugal.

Austrian cultivar:

• Zweigelt-rebe FPS 01--Also known as Rotberger or Zweigeltrebe Blau, it is Austria's most popular dark-berried grape. It is a cross between Blaufrankisch x St. Laurent made in 1922 by Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt at the Federal Institute for Viticulture & Pomology in Klosterneuberg, Austria.

New releases of French cultivars include new clones (one each) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Tannat and Trousseau; and two clones of Syrah, including Syrah FPS 21 from the Morisoli Heritage Vineyard in Napa. Two new clones of Peloursin were released, FPS 02 and 03, donated to FPS in 2004 by Robert Brittan of Stags' Leap Winery in Napa Valley. They are of interest as this variety was sometimes labeled as Petite Sirah, and was often found in historic vineyard field blends.

Available for the first time are three new, root-knot nematode-resistant rootstocks--Kingfisher, Matador and Minotaur--developed by Dr. Peter Cousins of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Order now, supplies limited

Initial supplies of new releases are limited due to minimal plant materials. Vines can be ordered as mist-propagated plants (own-rooted green plants in 4-inch pots), with delivery within six to 12 months. Deadline to order materials from FPS this year for 2012 delivery is Dec.1, later than FPS' normal Nov.15 deadline. Commercial nurseries and large growers often order much of the available material for further propagation. A complete list of new plant materials, and all other FPS materials, can be found on the FPS website.

Sweet also discussed new arrivals of grape materials that entered the FPS pipeline this year including 33 public selections and 28 proprietary selections. "The new arrivals are slanted toward cold climate selections this year," Sweet said. Many are being evaluated in Eastern and Midwest U.S. grapegrowing states as part of the USDA NE 1020 project field trials. They include new selections of cold climate cultivars such as Brianna, St. Croix, and the German red variety Dornfelder.

New FPS building

FPS director Dr. Deborah Golino reported on the new FPS headquarters building project, recently sent for bid with groundbreaking expected this winter. The new 5,600-square-foot building will be located near the existing FPS facility. It will house scientists and equipment in updated new spaces and include a conference room for classes and meetings. The current facility will remain in use. The new additional space will enable upgraded offices for 10 staff people now housed in a trailer.

The new building will be called the FPS Trinchero Family Estates Building, thanks to a $1 million gift two years ago from Trinchero that jump-started project planning. UC Davis is assisting with costs to begin construction and to meet campus sustainability goals with plans to build the facility to LEED silver certification.

FPS is responsible for construction costs. Golino said, "The total cost will be $3.6 million, and we hope to raise another $2 million from industry and other sources through a fundraising campaign that is underway." For information on donating and gift recognition opportunities, phone Golino at (530) 754-8102.

Golino also discussed the recent signing of California legislation, SB 707 (Cannella), that adds olive trees to production crops subject to statewide assessment. The new law also authorizes the California Department of Food and Agriculture to enter into agreements with UC and FPS to develop clean olive planting materials. Many grape and wine producers also grow olives and produce olive oil. FPS' expansion into olive plant materials is expected to benefit the California olive oil industry.

Russell Ranch vineyard planting underway

Russell Ranch, located four miles from the main UC Davis campus, is the site of the new 100-acre FPS Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard being developed with federal 2008 Farm Bill funding for the USDA National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) project.

FPS staff planted its first vine materials at the site this summer on 20 acres now cultivated and developed with irrigation systems. Registered Foundation rootstocks are own-rooted without trellising on 24-foot x 24-foot spacing, which allows them to grow and spread along the ground. Ten acres are currently developed with trellis for registered scion/variety vine materials. Production manager Mike Cunningham said FPS planted 350 scion grapevines in the trellised vineyard in July. A fence is nearly completed to surround the entire 100-acre site.

Materials planted at the Russell Ranch Foundation Vineyard must meet a somewhat stricter standard, called the "2010 Protocol," than those planted in the FPS Classic Foundation Vineyard, located at UC Davis. Although all FPS Foundation materials will eventually be transitioned to the Russell Ranch site, Golino said, "We planted new materials at both locations this year, and we will have to maintain two Foundation vineyards for a number of years during this transition, in order to maintain adequate supplies for the industry."

NGR website improvements

Sweet listed several additions and improvements to the National Grape Registry (NGR) website, maintained by FPS. The site provides detailed information about FPS selections and lists commercial nurseries that have them available. A new "Russell Ranch" section is now on the website describing the project, the "2010 Protocol" established for selections to meet the NCPN standard for planting, and a list of the scion and rootstock materials planted at Russell Ranch that will be regularly updated. The NGR website also has a new search feature to enable locating variety selections by popular clonal names, such as the "Disney Silverado" Cabernet clone.
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