The current state of fungus-resistant grape varieties in Switzerland


Abstract: Agroscope began breeding fungus-resistant grape (FRG) varieties in 1996. The first
trials resulted in two successfully marketed grape varieties: Divico and Divona. Currently,
Agroscope is focusing on breeding multi-gene FRG varieties. To do this Agroscope has been
working with INRAE in Colmar, France so that long-term protection can be provided. We also conduct rigorous grape variety testing for both the first and second breeding programs, alongside other interspecific varieties from around Europe. Testing includes assessing agronomical, as well as enological characteristics. Additionally, winegrower and consumer acceptance projects have been conducted to better understand the current state of FRG varieties in Switzerland. Generally, winegrowers are motivated by fewer fungicide applications and therefore reduced management costs and environmental consequences, while winemakers are producing both single variety and cuvee wines for the market. Consumer awareness of these wines has slowly started to increase and there has been a steady increase in vineyard area of FRG varieties in Switzerland over the last decade. However, as of 2022 FRG varieties remain only 3 % of the total vineyard area in Switzerland. As of 2023, in an attempt to increase the vineyard area more quickly and to drastically reduce the number and amount of fungicides being used in viticulture, the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture has begun subsidizing the planting of FRG varieties. The Swiss government has created a robust and progressive program, which can be used as an example for supporting sustainable winegrowing methods, which have positive impacts on the environment.

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