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Prevention through Selection of the Right Grapevine Variety

Grapevine diseases are a sad topic, but with an optimal (sunny) location, proper training, and adequate pruning, it is possible to prevent almost any problem. The most important factor, however, is which the grapevine variety you choose! The crucial question is in which league you want to play: bottom, middle, high, or top?

Bottom League: Grapeless Vines

It may be an unsportsmanlike practice, but the very best precaution against problems with vines is to use grape-free (fruitless) varieties. These grapevine varieties burst with health and will only develop leaves without any fruits. None of the listed diseases and problems really concern them. Location, training and pruning etc.. are not deciding factors for these plants that grow like weeds and are almost indestructible.

Grapeless variety from FassadenGrün
Grapeless variety from FassadenGrün

Middle League: American Grapevine Varieties

Many North American Vitis species have large berries and are also resistant to mildew and other fungal diseases; that is is why in recent decades "American vines" -- such as "Buffalo," "Isabella," and "Boskoops Glorie" -- have been used more and more. They descend from the almost indestructible fox vine "Vitis labrusca," which takes its name from the foxy taste of the fruit. These varieties all taste a little strange and unusually sharp. "Strawberry aroma" is a cute paraphrase, "Swamp Plum" and "Skunk Grape," as well as Swiss "Chatze Seychler" (Cat-Urin), tell it clearly... The stocks are healthy with large leaves and decorative grapes, but the taste needs getting used to... the grapes lend themselves great for jam and jellies though. Location, training, and pruning are less crucial here, if at all, and the plants can also be planted in partial shade.

American grapevine near a flower shop
American grapevine

Upper League: Moderne Grapevine Varieties

Modern grapevine varieties try to combine the advantages of European and American vines: good taste and health. The resulting table grapes possess the mild, harmonious taste that European tongues are accustomed to, with only the tiniest note of the "foxy" tone- the so-called "muscat flavor." The resistance to disease is better than in European varieties and not quite as good as in pure American varieties. The two table grapes recommended by FassadenGrün (available in our shop) belong to this group. They can be grown on a house wall, without need for regular chemical treatments...

Location, training, and pruning are important for these "upper league" varieties-- without adequate care, these grapevines won't thrive; they need a sunny location such as a south-east or west-facing wall. Partially shaded locations must be avoided.

Grape variety "Muscat Birstaler"
"Muscat Birstaler"

Top League: Historical European Varieties

Good training, pruning, and location are of crucial importance.

Finest taste: old variety "Chasselas" and the blue "Dornfelder"
Chasselas and Dornfelder