Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

hybrids in common viticultural terms, the offspring of two varieties of different species, as distinct from a cross between two varieties of the same species, which is also known as an intraspecific cross. (See vitis for details of the various species of the vine genus.) eu authorities prefer the somewhat cumbersome term ‘interspecific cross’ to the word hybrid, which has pejorative connotations within Europe.

Hybrids can occur naturally by cross-pollination, as happened, for example, in early American viticulture (see american hybrids). More commonly, however, hybrids have been deliberately produced by man (see new varieties and vine breeding) to combine in the progeny some of the desirable characteristics of the parents. This viticultural activity was particularly important in the late 19th century, when European, and especially French, breeders tried to combine the desirable wine quality of European vinifera varieties with american vine species’ resistance to introduced American pests and diseases, especially the phylloxera louse, which was devastating European vineyards (see french hybrids).