Which varieties are resistant to phylloxera?
Is the Mission vine variety resistant to phylloxera? – ask Decanter
Zachary Elfman, Vigo, Spain asks: Are there certain grapes that are resistant to phylloxera?
I read that the Mission variety was likely the first Vitis vinifera planted on US soil, and it struck me that it should have been ravaged by phylloxera. Yet it is highly productive, and many own-rooted examples still exist in California and Argentina.
Julia Harding MW replies: Whereas American vine species are resistant to phylloxera, some more so than others, no Vitis vinifera varieties are resistant.
As we explain in The Oxford Companion to Wine (OUP, 4th edition, 2015), phylloxera is native to the east coast of the US, which is why the Mission vines taken from Spain (it’s now known as Listán Prieto in the Canary Islands) to Mexico around 1540, and to New Mexico in 1629, survived unscathed until phylloxera crossed the Rockies in the 1870s.
If there are own-rooted Mission vines found in California or Argentina, then these must be in areas not affected by phylloxera.
For a good history of the aphid, I recommend Christy Campbell’s Phylloxera: How Wine was Saved for the World (HarperCollins, 2004).
Julia Harding MW worked on The Oxford Companion to Wine among other books.
This question first appeared in the July 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, subscribe to Decanter here.