GRAD Grenache

The tough, botrytis and split -resistant, skin of the the GRAD®1 Grenache clone berries make it particularly well suited to northern regional growing conditions (Waiheke Island, Auckland, Northland, etc.), as well as to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.



GRAD® Grenache Clone 1: In Brief

  • A new, multiply-regenerated, high-health Grenache clone derived from from material rescued from a remnant of a 1960s Frank Berrysmith U.C.D. Grenache import.
  • PCR tested free of virus except for the benign form of RSPaV1, and subsequently multiple E.L.I.S.A. tested free of GVA, and GLRaV1, 2, and 3.  All mothervines of GRAD® 1 Grenache have subsequently tested negative for GLRaV3 at Stanmore Farm nursery in accordance with the requirements of the New Zealand Grafted Grapevine Standard.
  • The GRAD® 1 Grenache clone is distinguished by having a tough skin that resists botrytis and splitting in post-veraison rain. This is a genetic trait that is both unusual and highly valuable in Grenache nowadays. It makes the GRAD®1 Grenache clone particularly well suited to northern regional growing conditions (Waiheke Island, Auckland, Northland, etc.), as well as to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.
  • Almost certainly descended from Grenache grown in the renown pre-phylloxera Californian Almadon Vineyard established ca. 1852-7 by Charles Lefranc using high quality stock imported from France.
  • This ex-U.C.D. genetic line of Grenache performed exceptionally well in Frank Berrysmith’s late-1960s – early-1970s trials at Kumeu and Hawkes Bay. Indeed, Berrysmith rated this Grenache so highly that he strongly recommended that it be widely utilised by N.Z. growers in the 1970s to produce export quality red wines. (Alas, the industry ignored him.)
  • Vines grafted with GRAD® 1 Grenache are  available in New Zealand through Stanmore Farm Nursery under license from GRAD®.
  • E-mail for orders or inquires:
    Phone: 0800 Stanmore (0800 782 666)
  • Mobile: 027 544 0140
  • For more information about these clones, and for details regarding their use in, and suitability for, your vineyard, e-mail Dr. Gerald Atkinson at:
  • A comprehensive non-propagation contract must be signed off as part of your purchase order.
  • Download 1 page PDF Fact Sheet on GRAD® clone 1 Grenache




Leaving aside possible very early (1890s – early 1900s) accessions, there have been just three documented Grenache imports to New Zealand up to 2000, all under the aegis of Frank Berrysmith. The first, and by far both best documented and most thoroughly field-trialled, was in 1963 from the sole Grenache vine then in the ‘mother block’ of Foundation Plant Material Services at University of California at Davis. It is from this source that GRAD® 1 Grenache ultimately derives. The other two imports, both in the 1970s, were from Australia and were surely intended by Berrysmith to build upon the outstanding success of his original U.C.D. importation.

A fine regenerated Berrysmith Grenache explant growing in the GRAD R&D nursery in Christchurch in the mid-2000s.

However, neither of these later imports were taken up by the industry, and by the 1980s both had become mere obscurities in the Te Kauwhata vine collection, as well as becoming seriously virus infected. The same fate also befell virtually all remaining plantings (in vineyards or collections) of the 1963 import — except for a very few own-roots vines in obscure locations in the South Island. Indeed, the old remnant Grenache vine GRAD® discovered was (perhaps a rogue) in a small table grape planting and seems almost certainly to have been sourced without any awareness that the variety would not ripen in the south. (Remarkably, it seems it was nonetheless retained as curio because its fruit hung well.)

Following initial visual ampelographic identification by GRAD®, where this remnant vine was tentatively identified as Grenache, DNA testing of a cane sample was carried out at Waite Laboratory in Adelaide, and this confirmed GRAD®’s ampelography: the vine is indeed Grenache. I obtained high health explants of this original material using a range of regeneration techniques, and PCR testing by Linnaeus Laboratories confirmed in due course that my explants were positive only for the benign RSPaV virus. The best vine from this regenerated Grenache material was then selected to become the GRAD® 1 clone.

Grenache shoot tip.
Image source: Ursula Brühl, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof – 76833 Siebeldingen, GERMANY.

Most interestingly, my research into this genetic line’s Californian origins has underscored Frank Berrysmith’s trial findings (published, for example, in his 1975 Wine Review article, “Abundant Yield by Trial Viniferas”) where Berrysmith stated that at his trials in both Kumeu in Auckland and Greenmeadows in Hawkes Bay, his ex-U.C.D. Grenache had, respectively, “good weather resistance” and was “highly resistant to weather damage”. My research has shown that this strikingly coheres with more recent U.C.D.-published findings which show that their old original Californian Grenache line is much less disposed to bunch rot than their later Californian-derived lines. Just as significantly, it also has smaller berries and is more fruitful. This original genetic line was selected from a vine in an old Gallo Brothers vineyard, and it seems extremely likely to be the source of the ex-“mother block” U.C.D. Grenache imported to New Zealand by Berrysmith in 1963. In turn, this old Gallo Grenache line very probably came to California in imports ca. 1852-7 by Charles Lefranc for his Almadon Vineyard. Author and historian Marjorie Pierce, in her 1990 book, San Jose and Its Cathedral, says “Charles Lefranc” was “a tailor from Passy, France … who … imported European [vine] stock (Pinot, Sauvignon, Cabernet, and Grenache), which he grafted on to Mission root stock.” There are, moreover, also a number of records of Lefranc producing good quality Grenache wines in the 1870s and 80s while seemingly no-one else at that time was producing competing Californian wines from the varietal. Interestingly, and by contrast, Grenache almost certainly was not among the over 300 European varieties Agaston Haraszthy imported to California. In sum then, the source of the original U.C.D. line of Grenache from which, via my discovered old remnant of Berrysmith’s 1963 import, the GRAD®1 Grenache clone is derived, has impeccable quality credentials from wines it produced in California’s pre-phylloxera vineyards. Nowadays, its tough-skinned smaller-sized berries and moderate crop level — which are key elements of its pre-phylloxera quality pedigree — are very rare in Grenache clones.



Health status

After thoroughgoing and careful regeneration in the GRAD® R&D nursery in Christchurch, PCR testing at Linnaeus Laboratories in Gisborne showed that that the GRAD® 1 Grenache clone was a high health line and carried only the benign RSPaV1 virus. Subsequent multiple E.L.I.S.A. testing immediately prior to supply of mothervines to Stanmore Farm Nursery also re-confirmed that this clone is free of GLRaV1,2,3, and GVA. All mothervines of GRAD® 1 Grenache at Stanmore Farm have since consistently tested negative for GLRaV3 as per the new Zealand Grafted Grapevine Standard.



Given its provenance, it is perhaps unsurprising that the GRAD®1 Grenache genetic line appears to offer relatively smaller berries and both correspondingly superior skin-to-juice ratio and higher dry extract levels, than many more recent, higher cropping and bigger-berried, international Grenache selections (which seem to reflect a ‘workhorse’ eye to the variety’s usage). GRAD®1 Grenache’s bunches are otherwise typically generously proportioned in the mode of the variety. Additionally though, this clone has the distinct advantage of the already-mentioned strong disposition to resist bunch rot and berry splitting in poor weather at vintage. This is a trait that is both uncommon and highly valuable in Grenache genetic lines nowadays. It makes the GRAD®1 Grenache clone particularly well suited to northern regional growing conditions (Waiheke Island, Auckland, Northland, etc.), as well as to Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.

Grenache shoot tip.
Image source: Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof – 76833 Siebeldingen, GERMANY.

Typically for the variety, the GRAD®1 Grenache clone is well suited to spur pruning, although it is also seemingly more than tractable enough in its internode spacings and fertility to permit cane pruning (provided suitable restrictive, drought-resistant, rootstock is used to moderate its vigour by growing under managed deficit irrigation). Excessive Nitrogen fertilisation and / or use of low Potassium absorbing rootstocks should be avoided as Grenache can be lazy in lignifying its canes unless appropriately husbanded to avoid this phenomenon: the use of GRAD® 44-53 rootstock is well indicated here therefore. Additionally, it is also reasonably well established that Grenache is poorly suited to machine harvesting (with poor general berry detachment and significant juicing). Thus despite its tough-skinned berries, GRAD®1 Grenache is probably best advised to be harvested by hand.

Qualitative potential

As has already been mentioned, the GRAD®1 Grenache clone has inherited very high quality characteristics due to its pre-phylloxera lineage. Key among these are: tough-skinned berries that resist bunch rot and give bunches that hang well in the rain; smaller berry size than most post-phylloxera Grenache selections; and a more moderate cropping disposition as well. This adds up to a fine wine clone, not a modern industrial ‘workhorse’ one. Wine of concentration and depth should thus be much more achievable with the GRAD®1 clone, especially where it is grown on the well-suited GRAD® 44-53 rootstock that will both allow the use of managed deficit irrigation to restrict berry size and excessive growth while supporting Grenache’s physiological need for reliable Potassium uptake.


Ripening period

Grenache is a late ripener by the standards of most wine grapes grown in New Zealand. However, as Villa Maria (and in some respects, before them, Matua Valley in their Matheson vineyard, have shown — albeit both of them with virused Grenache lines that would be entirely eclipsed by the high health GRAD®1 clone), Grenache will ripen in Hawkes Bay and produce acceptable wines.

Grenache bunch, post-phylloxera modern clone.
Image source: Ursula Brühl, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof – 76833 Siebeldingen, GERMANY.

Further north, Waiheke Island has seen Grenache planted and some moderately interesting wines produced, but I genuinely feel that ill-informed rootstock selection (using Riparia Gloire and the like) has significantly limited the potential of these plantings. Using a shallow-rooting and water-demanding stock with a short phenological cycle is not in my opinion a smart way to set about growing Grenache. These sorts of errors aside, in the Northland and Auckland viticultural regions, GRAD®1 clone Grenache, with its ability to shrug off wet autumn conditions and hang its fruit without bunch rot or splitting, should ripen well — provided good vineyard management and correct rootstock selection are in place.




Stanmore Farm Nursery has well-established mothervines of GRAD®1 clone Grenache. For information on currently available grafting bud numbers and for forward orders, contact their nursery.

Vines grafted with GRAD®  are available through Stanmore Farm nursery under license from GRAD®

E-mail for orders or inquires:
Phone: 0800 Stanmore / 0800 782 666 
Mobile: 027 544 0140

Please note: A strict and comprehensive non-propagation contract must be signed off as part of your purchase order. 

GRAD® is a New Zealand registered trademark uniquely and exclusively used to identify the vines in the GRAD vine collection. Use by unauthorised parties to identify any vine material, or other use for commercial gain, is an infringement of this trademark.

Genetic ‘fingerprint’ and traceability characteristics

Vine pirates BEWARE! It is now possible to genetically fingerprint, uniquely identify, and individually detect grapevine clones using the latest-developed molecular genetic sequencing techniques. See the breakthrough research paper by Michael J. Roach et al, “Population Sequencing Reveals Clonal Diversity and Ancestral Inbreeding in the Grapevine Cultivar Chardonnay”, published November 20, 2018 at




Questions about this wine grape? Contact us.

Author: Dr. Gerald Atkinson

Company director, viticulturist, grapevine researcher and historian, and sometime wine-writer.