Wine grapes "on own rootstock" - Big mistake?!?!?

I ordered a couple trees from Bay Laurel and also ordered a few replacement grape vines and I didn’t realize until I received (and planted them) that there was no rootstock information. I checked on Bay Laurel’s website and it said “The wine grapes we offer are all grown on their own roots.” The grapes were Merlot (originally from Dave Wilson Nursery) and Chardonnay (originally from some other vendor in CA that I don’t recall the name). Anyhow, I thought Vinifera grapes needed to be planted on a different rootstock to survive.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Are these vines doomed?

So I called Bay Laurel to ask about this and they said these were in fact vines on their own roots and not transplanted onto a different rootstock.

I asked about them getting infected with phyloxera (which is why they’re grafted onto different rootstocks in the first place) and she said that “unless I was a commercial grower with thousands of vines, I’d probably be ok”

Does that make any sense? I only have 44 vines but the oldest are 10 years old (not sure if that matters) and I’m surrounded by commercial vineyards (not sure if that matters either). I was under the impression that unless wine grapes (Vitis vinerfera) are grafted onto resistant rootstock, they will get phyloxera and die.

I grew some from Bay Laurel on their own roots and I had the same worry. I eventually grafted the variety to another root and pulled up the original one, but this was years later and it was perfectly healthy when I pulled it. I did see some phylloxera one year in my vineyard. If you want a grape vine to last forever I would consider getting another source.

In general I would reconsider messing with vinifera in the mid-atlantic, they are a big pain in terms of spray requirements. I pulled my last one a few years ago.

Thanks Scott.

Do you have any sources other than Double A? They still have Merlot but are sold out of Chardonnay. And the irony is I went with Bay Laurel so I’d save on shipping costs at Double A since I was already ordering trees from Bay Laurel. So to save a few buck in additional shipping costs, I bought $60 worth of vines that I’ll have to rip up! Yeah!!

I’m into making wine so these varieties have to stay, but, yeah the spraying is a bit of a pain.

Bart, have you thought of contacting your County Extension Agency to ask them about concerns and sources? Vineyards are a big economic deal for agriculture and tourist industries in Fauquier. The extension agency is likely to either a knowledgeable staff person, or should at least be able to provide contact information.

1 Like

Thanks Muddy. I haven’t really contacted anyone but I have read a lot of the material put out by VA Tech which has some experimental vineyards not to far from me. Everything I’ve read from them talks about the need for resistant rootstocks. Actually, they barely mention the need for the rootstocks, they spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting the different rootstocks and pros and cons. I think it’s a given that you need some kind of rootstock, you just have to pick the right one for your site.

I’m shocked that you can even buy vines on their own roots. I guess they’re taking advantage of people who don’t know any better, or don’t pay close enough attention. (that’d be me)

To answer my own question, I found this site that sells small quantities of grapes on phyloxera resistant rootstock. It ain’t cheap, but I’m desperate.

1 Like