The main content of this page starts here

Wild grapevine genetic reserves In situ conservation of CWR

Wild grapevine genetic reserves

Wild grapevine on the island of Ketsch (Source: BLE)


The European wild grapevine Vitis gmelinii Buttler (synonyms: Vitis sylvestris, Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris) is threatened with extinction in Germany (threat category 2 on the German red list of vascular plants and on the red list of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg). Still in the middle of the 19th century, several thousand wild grapevine individuals were counted in the Rhine meadows between Rastatt and Mannheim. Today there are only a few hundred plants left in the Upper Rhine region. The wild grapevine population on the Rhine island of Ketsch is the last rejuvenating wild grapevine population in Germany and one of the largest alluvial wild grapevine populations in Europe.

The Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) funded the model and demonstration project "Survival of wild grapevine Vitis sylvestris C.C. Gmel. in the Rhine meadows through targeted in situ management”. It laid the foundations for securing the remaining diversity in the long term and ensured its availability as a resource for grapevine breeding. This was achieved through inventorying and morphologically as well as genetically characterizing the wild grapevines, re-planting at suitable riparian forest sites and ex situ conservation of the Ketsch wild grapevine population.

In the project "Upper Rhine VITAL - the Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris species management guideline for nature conservation practice”, a comprehensive management plan and concepts in the areas of monitoring, guiding principles, habitat-networking and awareness-raising were developed. The follow-up project "Upper Rhine VITAL - Phase II - Rejuvenation Concept Rhine island Ketsch" started in 2019. Both projects are funded by the Baden-Württemberg nature conservation fund.

In situ occurrence data on wild grapevine populations are available in PGRDEU.

Evidence of resistance to downy mildew, powdery mildew and black rot were discovered in the wild grapevine ex situ collections. The BMEL-funded project "Use of European wild grapevine genetic resources for the breeding of mildew and black rot-resistant grapevines" laid the foundation for harnessing our native wild grapevine as a genetic resource for the sustainable viticulture of the future.

Genetic reserves for wild grapevine

The first genetic reserve for wild grapevine is currently being established on the Rhine island of Ketsch in order to protect the wild grapevine population growing there in the long term.

It is managed by the Wild Grapevine Coordination Unit for Baden-Württemberg, which is located at the Regional Institute for the Environment Baden-Württemberg (LUBW). The LUBW cooperates with the Karlsruhe Regional Council and the Forestry Administration.

A second nationwide monitoring of existing wild grapevine populations in Germany, funded by the BMEL, is being carried out in 2022 and 2023. It will provide updated data and serve as a basis for the possible establishment of further wild grapevine genetic reserves.


Dr. Imke Thormann
+49 (0) 228  6845 - 3438
Email:  Imke.Thormann(at)ble(dot)de

Sarah Sensen
+49 (0) 228  6845 - 3543
Email: Sarah.Sensen(at)ble(dot)de

Isabelle Winkler
+49 (0) 228  6845 - 2895
Email: Isabelle.Winkler(at)ble(dot)de

Federal Office for Agriculture
and Food
Unit 331
Deichmanns Aue 29
D-53179 Bonn