50 years of Regent – a PIWI pioneer’s birthday

In June 1969, the fungus-resistant (PIWI) grapevine variety “Regent” was developed by pollination of the young german white wine variety “Diana” with pollen of the french red wine - veteran “Chambourcin” at Geilweilerhof, the institute for grapevine breeding in Palatinate. The breeding number “Gf.- 67 198 - 3” was named “Regent” in 1998. It was about time! From the shadow of Dornfelder, Regent spread out in Germany to an area of 2000 ha due to the popularity of red wines in the beginning of the second millennium. This is a great benefit for the environment, since Regent and its PIWI-relatives usually only need around three harmless organic plant protection treatments a year. This equals approximately a quarter of the amount conventional varieties need. There are several benefits such as fewer working hours for vintners, improvement of vineyard soil preservation through less tractor usage as well as less CO2 emissions. These are all great arguments for sustainable and grandchildren-friendly viticulture.

Regent is one of the early ripening varieties. Through the rise of global warming, vine growers prefer late ripening types. Luckily, time does not stand still! Breeders have been able to successfully generate children and grandchildren of Regent and other PIWI pioneers. The ripening process is late enough to be suitable for our steep-slope vineyards. In a wet, fungus-promoting year like 2016 - three relaxed ecological sprayings sound very attractive to steep-slope vine growers.

Questions like: “What do the wines of these new varieties taste like? Has anyone already enjoyed an exceptional PIWI wine?” are already coming up in the wine journalistic and sommelier world. At the Intervitis Interfructa in November 2016, the 4 day long PIWI tasting with more than 300 PIWI wines and the PIWI Wine Award 2016 was a great success for PIWI International. From year to year, the number of PIWI wines has been growing. Wine growers like experimenting, and creations such as PIWI orange wines, PIWI natural wines or PIWI barrique wines are seen more and more frequently to the joy of wine lovers. Furthermore, quality of wine is improving, and is nowadays on the same level as that of conventional varieties. PIWI wines are a mainstay in the wine world; above all, organic wine growers need these varieties to reduce their work load. Numerous achievements at wine competitions speak for themselves, such as 50 medals at the DLG award ceremony 2016, international organic wine award 2016 one top-gold medal, three gold medals; PIWI international wine award 2016 one top gold medal, 16 gold medals and 15 silver medals. Congratulations!

Josef Engelhart
PIWI-International e.V.
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