Vitis vinifera L. is the most cultivated species in the world for grape production, covering about 94% of the commercial vineyard surface. The majority of the grapes are used for wine making, followed by fresh consumption, raisins, juices, jellies and marmalades. V. vinifera is protected against diseases by spray treatments that have environmental, economic and societal impacts. Wild grapevines, on the other hand, are disease resistant but of poor grape quality. A way to combine disease resistance with grape quality is breeding, which aims at obtaining new cultivars. Breeding programs were developed from the 19th century on, in both the Old (Europe) and New Worlds, as a way to promote sustainable viticulture. The main results of breeding and their impact on the production of commercial wine grapes are described, ranging from the first American hybrids to the most recent cultivars. Productive, legislative and commercial aspects for wine production are considered, especially for the European Union, where the wine sector is strongly regulated. The perspectives of breeding for disease resistance are discussed, including new breeding techniques such as cisgenesis and genome editing. The importance of interacting with society to make these innovations (obtained by both traditional and new methods) acceptable is emphasized. While fewer acceptance problems are expected with table grapes, raisins or rootstocks, more concerns can arise with wine grapes, because wine is a cultural product, especially in Europe. The role of science is to give the legislator tools to cope with sustainability and to educate society (from the grape grower to the wine consumer) to a correct understanding. Innovations can be a real advantage only if they are accepted by all actors in the wine chain.
- Vitis vinifera L.
- grapevine breeding