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What is a massal selection – ask Decanter

What is a massal selection? Wine consultant Stephen Skelton MW gives Decanter an answer.

Massal selection explained

Christopher Williams, Glasgow, asks: What is a massal selection?

Stephen Skelton MW, for Decanter, asks: When growers want to plant new vineyards, or replace older vines at the end of their productive life, they buy one year old vines from nurseries.

These nurseries obtain the wood for the vines from ‘mother gardens’ planted with certified clones of individual varieties, which is then grafted on to suitable rootstocks.

But some growers prefer to plant new vineyards, or replace dead vines with those produced with wood taken from old vineyards planted before the days of clonal planting.

By doing this, they can preserve the clonal variation of these older vineyards, many of which were planted with vines produced from wood taken from a region’s successful vineyards. Thus their vineyards are populated with vines having significant clonal variation and this is known as a massal selection.

Stephen Skelton MW is a consultant to the English wine industry.


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