Logo   (Since 1999)

Beverage Articles, News & Features Section

Home       Food Articles       Food Trivia       Today in Food History       Recipes       Cooking Tips       Videos       Food Quotes       Who's Who       Food Trivia Quizzes       Crosswords       Food Poems       Cookbooks       Food Posters       Recipe Contests       Culinary Schools       Gourmet Tours       Food Festivals & Shows

  You are here > Home > Food Articles

Beverage Articles & NewsGeneral Wine & Spirits Articles >  Phylloxera Vastatrix, Deadly Vine Disease



From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training
Over 1,000 schools & classes listed for U.S., Online & Worldwide

Culinary Posters and Food Art



In mid 1800’s, the American wine industry was relatively well established. Researchers conducted experiments to improve yields, taste and growing patterns. Some started cross breeding programmes to improve more than taste, appearance, colour and other desirable characteristics. A few researchers crossed native vitis labrusca, - rotundifolia or – munsoniana family grape varieties, others tried to cross breed grapes varieties belonging to vitis vinifera and native varieties.

     A lively exchange of grape vines developed between France and the USA. American researchers and growers were interested in French vines, and in turn French growers wanted to see how well American species would grow on their soils.

     In 1865, a shipment of American vine cuttings arrived in the port of Bordeaux and was planted soon after. Two years after the planting, the vines showed atypical galls on the underside of leaves and a year later died. The disease, never encountered before up to that time in Europe devastated French vineyards within a decade, spreading rapidly from region to region, and eventually much of Europe.

     Scientists were baffled and could not explain how the disease spread and what caused it. The French government was concerned enough to offer anyone who could solve the problem, 300,000.- French Francs, which would be the equivalent of more than $ 1.5 million today.

     Today, we know what causes phylloxera vastatrix, and how to minimize its devastating results.

     This terrible disease starts as a green fly measuring 1 – 2 mm with a sophisticated reproduction cycle – in the summer, the winged insect lay two types of eggs on the bark of the vine. The smaller eggs produce male and the larger female offspring. After mating, the female, at the beginning of winter lays one egg under the bark the vine that hatches in the spring to a female phylloxera-causing aphid called the founder. The beetle attaches itself under a young leaf and in turn lays several hundred eggs, which in turn spawn countless generations of gall-dwelling aphids feeding on the leaves.

     In autumn, a number of larvae migrate towards the roots and start attacking the roots of the vine causing cellular disruptions that develop to nodes. These nodes cause the total disappearance of the roots, thus causing the vine to die.

     In July, to complete the cycle, pupae appear among the root-attacking aphids, which undergo a moulting and become winged insect mentioned first.

     These then take advantage of strong winds to spread 30 – 3- kilometres away fro their origin, thus vineyards adjacent to the source of phylloxera may be fully spared from the scourge, and those lying further afield be affected.

     Phylloxera vastatrix does not survive in sand and a few small regions on sandy soils have never been affected, but there are only few vineyards on exclusively sandy soils. In any case, sandy soils are not known to yield fine wine grapes.

     Two countries have never been affected by phylloxera vastatrix – Cyprus and Chile – due to rigorously enforced import controls of vines.

     Grafting vitis vinifera family grapes onto vitis labrusca or rotundifolia or  munsoniana rootstock solved the problem to a large extent 

     Eventually, rootstocks were developed to resist the dreaded disease, but phylloxera still ravages many regions as recently as 1980’s California, forcing thousands of vignerons to replant their vineyards at great expense.

This was caused due to the wrong selection of rootstock.

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu



   General Wine & Spirits Articles       The World Of Master Sommeliers       Resveratrol May Help Senior Mobility       Rosé By Any Other Name       Wine Drinkers Compendium       Wine Etiquette       Boxed Wines Eco Footprint       Aerating Wines       Appellations       Asian Lady Beetle       Barrels, Wood and Wine       Barrel Fermentation and Barrel Aging       Biodynamic Wine       Bottles for Wine       Bottle Stoppers: Cork or Plastic       Chardonnay       Corks - Put a Cork in It       Corkage Fees Uncorked       Decanting Wines       Deciphering Wine Labels       Essential Guide to Wine Touring       Hanlon's Razor - Wine Lists       Hybrid Grapes       Ice Wine, Wine Making in the Snow       In Vino Veritas: Wine Shelf Cards       It Was a Very Good Year       Lemberger or Limberger       Let It Breathe       Other White Wines       Phylloxera Vastatrix, Deadly Vine Disease       Poured with Pleasure       Practical Wine Tips       Pyrazine in Wine       Riesling Wines - A New World       Rose Wines       Terroir       Whines by the Glass       White Wines, Aromatic       Wine Anxiety Disorder       Wine Frauds       Wine and Your Health       Wine Labels       Wine Online       Wine Personalities       Wine Prices: The Invisible Hand       Wine Rating Scales       Wine Service Temperatures       Wine Snobbery       Wine Values  
   Home       About Us & Contact Us       Food Articles       Gardening       Marketplace       Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of from your website.

For permission to use any of this content please E-mail:

All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2014 James T. Ehler and unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.

You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.
Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.

Please take the time to request permission.




Popular Pages

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

Chef with red wine glass