Clonal Selection

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

clonal selection, one of the two principal means of improving a vine variety (the other being the elimination of virus diseases). Clonal selection is the practice of selecting a single superior plant in the vineyard and then taking cuttings from this vine for propagation. The selection is generally made with a particular attribute such as yield or fruit ripeness in mind. Clonal selection contrasts with mass selection, where a group of superior vines is selected.

New grapevines, in common with many other perennial crops, are produced by vegetative propagation, that is by using cuttings which are genetically identical. (This contrasts with agricultural field crops, which are multiplied by seeds that are different one from another—although sexual reproduction leading to the production of seedlings is the means by which new varieties are created.) In vegetative propagation, each bud from a so-called ‘mother vine’ essentially gives rise to a plant of the same clone (except for those very rare cases in which a bud mutation has taken place).