Wait… what? Ok, let's call them PIWI (pronounced pee-vee).
Simply, PIWI is a hybrid of the most famous plant worldwide:
Vitis Vinifera = Vines
PIWI Wines are fungus-resistant grape varieties created through crossing
selection. They contain high percentages of Vitis Vinifera and just enough traits
of American Vitis to give good resistance to fungal infection.
The aim of the breeding programmes, which can take up to 30 years, is to
develop new grape varieties that meet future challenges of agriculture – such as
lowering the impact on the environment by reducing spray use and vineyard
operations. Therefore, these robust and innovative grape varieties are an
obvious alternative to conventional intensive crop protection.
Time to rewind the clock ⌛⌛
In principle, it's simple. Countless different grapevines exist on our planet. One
species is called Vitis Vinifera. These are the so-named noble vines from which
grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot, etc.,
evolved. In the mid-1800s French American hybrid wines were first created as a
solution for Phylloxera that nearly wiped out most of Europe vines.
Pests and fungi still attack wines worldwide. To keep fungal infections in check,
especially in cool, moist areas such as Germany, vineyards must be sprayed
numerous times throughout a growing season. As a side effect, fungicide after
fungicide destroyed the environment and its habitants.
To reduce the number of necessary treatments, a few different botanic in the 19th
century found ways to create hybrids combining other species of vines that
showed resistant traits.
PIWIs pose themselves as the best strategy to cultivate grapes respecting the
environment and biodiversity.
From conventional viticulture to PIWI.
Conventional viticulture is geared towards economic and technical efficiency.
The use of heavy machinery in the vineyard and cellar, chemical pesticides and
mineral fertilizers is the normality. Conventional viticulture combats vine
diseases and pests mainly through spraying with pesticides, not considering all
the adverse effects on the ecosystem.
At the end of the 80s, organic viticulture started to take off worldwide when
many growers decided to embrace this philosophy. It stands to produce the grapes in an environmentally friendly way, which means taking care of the
natural balance in the vineyard and the surrounding area, with no use of
synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Few are the
primary motivations for small grape growers to convert into organic production
like health protection, the taste of the wine, preserve the environment and
In Germany, the first Piwi varieties were approved in the 1990s. Today, more
than 50 varieties are available to winegrowers, and others are in the process of
being approved. "Germany plays a pioneering role in the breeding of Piwis"
PIWI Wines are already widespread in German wine-growing regions such as
Rheinhessen, Franconia and Palatinate. But they also are becoming increasingly
popular in other wine countries like Italy, France and Spain.
Their olfactory/gustatory profile has a broad, new spectrum, and even the most
refined palates, as well as professional wine tasters, haven't catalogued all the
features of each variety yet. These wines must be explored and discovered in all
their significant aspects, just like an unknown wildland.
Cultivating these interesting new varieties is a long-term project through