Grapevine clones Heirloom Plant Material Rootstock

Post-war: A New Beginning for Mosel Wine

After World War II, viticulture in Germany was destroyed. It was extremely difficult to work economically, especially in the steep terraced hills of the Mosel valley. In addition there was no quality plant material available.

Nicolaus Weis, grandfather of Nik Weis, the current owner and operator of Weis Reben, recognized these challenges. In 1947, from his place in the world-renowned Mosel/Saar/Ruwer wine region, he set out to explore combating and defeating the dreaded phylloxera virus. Actively supported by official institutions, he contributed to the renaissance of what were previously endangered vineyards by offering highly productive, genetically sound plant material which stood out not only for its excellent resistance to disease but also for its vitality and longevity.

Together with his business partner Josef Rules, a graduate of the Trier Institute of Viticulture, he founded Weis und Rules on the outskirts of his home town of Leiwen in the Mosel Valley. Their work as grape vine breeders was launched with the Riesling clone 21B, today known as Weis 21, in the1950s.

The Story Continues

  • In the early 1960s, Nicolaus´ son Hermann Weis takes over the management of the nursery and successfully continues the propagation of new clones and the grapevine production. He is responsible for the propagation of Riesling clone Weis 17, which had been selected in the early 50s as well as Riesling clone Weis 1 and Müller-Thurgau clone Weis 210, both of which came into production in 1961. In addition, he purchases four more Burgundy clones, including Windesheim 63 and 82 and Weis 2000.
  • In the 1970s, Hermann Weis begins exporting grapevines abroad. He pioneers Riesling plantings in Canada’s pre-eminent wine regions, including the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Additionally and in co-operation with Maison Betrand in the south of France, he establishes his own rootstock plantings. This collaboration continues today.
  • In the 1980s, a 6 hectare (15 acre) virus free clone centre is set up. It is designed and built according to the latest scientific findings in the fields of grapevine genetics and virology. This was done in co-operation with and under the authority of the Directors of the German Grapevine Clonal Selection Centre (Trier, Mosel) and the German Department of Forestry’s Institute for Grapevine Production (Bernkastel, Mosel).
  • In the 1990s, Weis Reben starts a project that through meristem cultures produces material that is free of viruses, including crown gall. The project is being headed by internationally recognized phyto-pathologist Dr. Günter Stellmach.
  • Since 2001, Weis Reben Manager and Vine Technologist Hermann Jostock concentrates on visiting old established vineyard sites in the Mosel/Saar/Ruwer region. His goal is to secure the healthiest and best plant material in vineyards that date back decades or even centuries. Experimental blocks propagated from this material have been established. And research is currently underway with the goal of making this heirloom material commercially available as soon as possible.

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