GRAD Pinot noir Clone 2 series (Derived from early 1960s U.C.D.4 old vines, including heat-treated D.S.I.R. selections)

The GRAD 2 clone series of Pinot noir derives from genetic material of extremely high quality and offers a very serious, carefully and systematically selected and locally developed, alternative to the ‘Dijon’ clones. Like the widely misunderstood and under-rated Abel clone, the GRAD clone series (development of which is now continuing into its third decade) offers more and better than is being achieved, or even, in all likelihood, can be achieved, in New Zealand from almost all of the range of the Bernard Dijon Pinot noir clones.

GRAD® Pinot noir Clone 2 Series, in brief:

  • A carefully selected, never before available, series of clones each of which has been developed from single old vines of either the original Frank Berrysmith and Alistair McKissock early-1960s import of U.C.D.4 Pinot noir, D.S.I.R. heat-treated versions of this line, or a M.A.F. Ruakura early-1980s re-heat-treated version of the earlier D.S.I.R. heat-treated U.C.D.4 Pinot noir lines.
  • Deriving from vines around 40 years of age, and having had close observation and further selection in the GRAD® R&D nursery, these clones are entirely developed in and for New Zealand cool-climate conditions.
  • 125 gram bunch size appears to be typical in close-planted vines in this clone series, with ripening times typically falling between a week before, or otherwise around the same time as, the ‘Dijon’ clones (crop levels and vineyard conditions all being equal).
  • Rich, spicy, dark red cherry-fruit characters are to the fore in these clones, but surmaturity (24 Brix and above) should be studiously eschewed to avoid plummy characters and elevated pH; these are excellent ‘main crop’ clones, that are ‘a point’ at 23 Brix in well managed vineyards. The U.C.D.4 genetic line has genuine potential to deliver wines with superior plushness and fleshiness compared to the ‘Dijon’ / Bernard clones. With the best examples, Vosne – Romanée connotations are neither uncommon nor misplaced.
  • All of the GRAD® Pinot noir Clone 2 Series are high-health clones that do not have the deleterious, and ripening-delaying, Fleck virus infection inherent in other versions of the U.C.D.4 genetic line available in N.Z.
  • Vines grafted with GRAD® 2 Series Pinot noir are undergoing bulking-up at Stanmore Farm nursery under license from GRAD®. Grafting wood should become available from 2022 onward.
  • E-mail for orders or inquires:
    Phone: 0800 Stanmore (0800 782 666)
  • Mobile: 027 544 0140
  • A comprehensive non-propagation contract must be signed off as part of your purchase of this vine material.
  • Download single A4 page fact sheet on GRAD Pinot noir clone 2 series



It will probably come as news to many in the N.Z. industry that the U.C.D.4 Pinot noir clone was imported to this country in April 1963 when, along with four other U.C.D. accessions, it was personally delivered by U.C. Davis’s plant virus researcher Dr. August Goheen on his arrival for a study trip to New Zealand. This material, imported on plant import permit 4731, was ordered for Frank Berrysmith by Alistair McKissock of Te Kauwhata Viticultural Research Station, and Goheen took possession of it at U.C. Davis on 23rd April 1963 just before flying out to New Zealand. (McKissock was himself a U.C.D. graduate, of N.Z. birth.) Once through quarantine here, the Pinot noir was released in mid-February 1965, and it appears that it might perhaps have undergone heat-treatment in quarantine, given that the ‘Refosco’ and Grenache on the same permit were released ten and a half months earlier, in early April 1964.

The UCD Foundation Plant Services export card file that shows Alister McKissock’s 1962 vine order was supplied to Professor Goheen of the U.C.D. who brought the cuttings with him in April 1963 when he flew out to New Zealand for a study visit. At this time, the only Pinot noir in the ‘Mother Block’ at U.C.D. was the vine stock that went on to become U.C.D.4.

Oddly, Berrysmith seems never to have trialled this accession, and in any case it seems in all likelihood that the 1965-released U.C.D.4 Pinot noir vines held at the Te Kauwhata national foundation vineyard (simply under no more than the non-clonal identifier ‘Pinot noir’), had become virus-infected by ca. 1968-69. (This sort of rapid infection of new accessions at Te Kauwhata was very common because the causes of virus transmission, other than through grafting, were very poorly understood at this time.) Certainly, there is very strong circumstantial evidence that this Pinot noir was heat-treated (probably ca. 1970) by D.S.I.R., and that a range of  explants were generated from this post-release thermotherapy virus removal treatment.  Several of these were held in D.S.I.R., and later in M.A.F., experimental plantings, but only one was ever officially released to the industry (in the early 1970s, simply as ‘Pinot noir’, through Massey University). In addition though, a very scarce and obscure further heat-treated line was produced in 1982-3 by M.A.F. — in effect a double, or perhaps even triple, -h.t. explant line, as it was almost certainly made from the D.S.I.R. 1970 h.t. material and re-heat-treated. It was effectively just an experimental line (held at Ruakura Research Station), but fortunately I have recovered material from a very rare remnant of it.

GRAD Series 2 Pinot noir, clone labelled under nursery code 9.5. This clone was selected and regenerated from a ca. 40 year old own roots ex-Massey University 1970s released vine. It is a particularly high quality Pinot fine selection, ripening around the same time as the ‘Dijon’ Bernard clones B114 and 115.

Overall though, the various incarnations of Frank Berrysmith’s 1963 import of U.C.D.4 Pinot noir have virtually never been readily or widely available to the N.Z. industry. Indeed, aside from what appear to have been a few ‘grace and favour’ releases of cuttings which Berrysmith made (e.g., to Corbans ca. 1966-7), the original 1965-released Pinot noir vine was never made available to N.Z. vignerons. The same was almost true of the D.S.I.R. heat-treated line, as it was only ever made available as a clonally-anonymous ‘Pinot noir’ offered through Massey University in the early to mid-1970s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this Pinot noir release gained very little industry interest or recognition (especially compared to the Massey-released ‘Bachtobel’ Pinot noir clone), and soon thereafter it faded into even deeper obscurity and then virtual oblivion.

All in all therefore, the 1965 released ‘U.C.D.4’ Pinot noir, the later D.S.I.R. explants made from it, and those made by further thermotherapy by M.A.F. ca. 1982-3, are a sort of ‘ghost vine’ line in the history of Pinot noir in this country. They certainly do not appear in the Te Kauwhata vine register, not least because those in M.A.F. who compiled it in the 1980s only accessed a limited range of records and related documents and had little or no knowledge or understanding of the 1960s-70s major D.S.I.R. thermotherapy virus elimination programme. Indeed, even M.A.F.’s own early 1980s multi-heat treated version appears in very few records and itself was never released to the industry by them. Consequently, until now, and more or less solely in this website, the existence and complex provenance of all these lines of U.C.D.4 material have more or less never been publicised.

It was not therefore until the later 1990s, when a second import of U.C.D.4 Pinot noir was made by Auckland G.V.I.G., that there was any clear public record of this clone being imported to, and grown in, New Zealand. It is my understanding (from a very senior figure in Auckland G.V.I.G.) that after release from quarantine, all its budwood was grafted to Fleck-infected rootstock at the nursery that bulked it up, and then all the original own-roots mothervines ex-quarantine were destroyed. In a nutshell then, the vine health of this second, 1990s / early-2000s release of Pinot noir U.C.D.4 is markedly inferior to all the high health lines that were released in the 1960s and 70s, and that of the M.A.F. explants of the early 1980s.

A further photograph of GRAD Series 2 clone under nursery code designation ‘9.5’. This is a ‘dark red cherry type’ of clone capable of producing wines with intensity, spice, and great depth. It is ‘a point’ at or just over 23 Brix if grown correctly, and blends particularly well with contemporaneously-picked (and thus usually 22 Brix) Abel clone (to ensure low pH and good acidity — especially vital where whole bunches of the riper GRAD series 2 clone are utilised in the ferment). Note the classic Pinot fine deep-indented 5-lobed lower leaves and deep mauve anthocyanin colouration on the sun-exposed side of the shoots — a sure indicator of a high quality dark-fruited Pinot noir genetic line.

In the face of this, the problem of course is to track down any remnants of these now 35 to 55 year old vines —but I have, and with careful regeneration and re-selection they have provided the range of clones now in the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series.

These clones each come from quite distinct source vines of old N.Z. U.C.D.4 lines, and they are distinctive vis-a-vis each other. They offer a premium range of re-selected old vine New Zealand material, all of them no doubt differing to a greater or lesser extent to the original U.C.Davis clone 4 Pinot noir, and in some cases by quite a bit (especially in ripening times and the details of their fruit characters).

As a final observation about the source of the GRAD® 2 Series Pinot noir clones, some remarks about the (now rather more clearly explicated and documented) Pommard origins of the U.C.D.4 clone are warranted. In some ways — essentially qualitative, but very likely also genetic — the ‘Pommard’ denomination given to the U.C.D. 4,  5 and 6 clones is misleading, despite its being accurate in identifying the appellation from which U.C.D.’s Harold Olmo obtained the source material for this genetic line in 1951. (U.C.D. 5 and 6 were of course made from U.C.D.4 by thermotherapy at U.C. Davis.)

We now know in fact that Prof. Olmo was looking strictly for high health Pinot noir (and other Burgundy varieties) when he visited Burgundy. But, as Prof. Bernard found when, in the 1960s, he began his search for vines that would source what became the ‘Dijon’ Pinot noir clones, high health Pinot noir (or Chardonnay) was as rare as hen’s gold teeth in mid-20th-century Burgundy vineyards: leaf roll viruses and nepo-viruses (especially Fan Leaf virus in Chardonnay, but also in the Pinots) were rampant and near omnipresent. We have to ask therefore how and why it was that in 1951 Harold Olmo went to what we now know (thanks to information published on the U.C.D. Foundation Plant Services grapes ‘Pinot noir’ webpage) was the Les Croix Noires vineyard in Pommard. (This is mistakenly identified just as ‘Les Croix’ in Olmo’s notes and thus on the U.C.D.  F.P.S. webpage in question, but no such vineyard exists or has ever been recorded in Pommard.) Les Croix Noires is in fact a small leiu dit that consists in just 1.3 hectares. Consequently, I suggest, it is extraordinarily unlikely that out of all of the Pinot noir vineyards in Burgundy, Olmo selected this tiny vineyard by happenstance — especially given that he was seeking to obtain only high health vine material. Rather, I suggest it is overwhelmingly likely that he was taken there by someone well familiar with the presence of high health high quality Pinot noir in this Pommard vineyard.

Harold Olmo’s photograph of vines in the Pommard Les Croix Noires vineyard, 1951. The less-than-healthy looking vine in the foreground could be damaged if it is not instead seriously virused. It also is worth observing that there is a fair chance that the copper-green verdigris tone in many of the vine leaves in this picture bespeaks heavy application of Bordeaux mixture to control downy mildew.
As Olmo’s cuttings taken in this vineyard arrived at U.C.D. on 23rd October 1951, I would expect that this photograph was taken about three weeks earlier. This would be shortly after vintage therefore,(which in the 1950s was ca. 25th September in Burgundy). Given Burgundy’s (then) very continental climate and the speed with, and extent to, which temperatures drop there through October, I would suggest that when Olmo’s cuttings were taken the vines had just defoliated and gone dormant. (Burgundy does not / did not have long autumns like we are used to in New Zealand.)
Picture source: , sourced in turn from U.C. Davis Department of Special Collections. Olmo Papers, D-280, box 54: 46.

In my opinion (in advance of further and ongoing research), the person most likely to have known such Pinot noir vines were present in Les Croix Noires in Pommard was Prof. Olmo’s associate, who had previously supplied him with high quality Burgundy vine material (in the 1940s), Prof. Paul Trinquet from the l’École Pratique d’Agriculture et de Viticulture de Beaune. Trinquet was the Principal at this institution from 1934 to 1964. He was quite possibly therefore, given his prior history of correspondence with, and supply of high health vine material to, Prof. Olmo, the person that directed him in 1951 to Les Croix Noires. It is of course not sited too far from the Beaune location of Prof. Trinquet’s École, and it is far from inconceivable that Trinquet was both well familiar with this little lieu dit vineyard and its proprietors, and that he and / or his college had a hand in either securing high quality high health Pinot noir for it, or at least identifying it as containing such (at the time) very rare and valuable high health Pinot noir material.

It is of course a very interesting further question as to whence came the Les Croix Noires vines from which Olmo made his selection. My own very strong suspicion is that this material had a very fine Vosne – Romanée source, but I hope to throw definitive light upon its origins following further detailed research. — In sum though: there is a great deal about the characteristics of the Olmo ‘Pommard’ line that strongly suggests it had far more salubrious origins — very likely in the best part of Côtes de Nuits, not the Côtes de Baune — than its popular name tends to connote.



Health status

All PCR testing of the material from which I have selected the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series has shown the presence only of the benign RSPaV1 virus. Subsequent E.L.I.S.A. testing for GLRaV1,2, and 3, and GVA has also shown this clone series to be negative for these key viruses.

GRAD 2 series clone under the nursery code designation ‘RM95’ in the GRAD R&D nursery in Christchurch. Note the scarlet anthocyanin in the young upper leaf, and the shoot’s 5-lobed leaf morphology: clear indicators of a quality Pinot fine genetic line.


All the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones are robust moderately-strong-growing vines: definitely more so than ‘Dijon’ 114 and 115; but a measure less so than the relatively strong (and later-ripening) extremely fine Abel clone. To get the very best out of these GRAD® clones (and so outside of their being used, as they readily can be, in wide-spaced ‘industrial’ vineyards), careful restriction by close-planting (at 5,000 vines per hectare) and managed deficit irrigation is well advised. Going beyond the point where such ‘restriction’ crosses into vine stress must of course be studiously avoided, as must outright vine stress itself in all Pinots. This is in particular a crucial factor in producing high quality Pinot noir wines because vine stress very quickly causes Pinot noir to produce short-chain catechinic stress tannins and lose finesse in its fruit characters. Ultimately this leads on to hard, mean, and pinched wines (however much their assertive tannin structures may be lauded by barbarian winemakers). Fortunately, the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones have a more forgiving, broader, boundary around their vine-stress-point than the generally weaker ‘Dijon’ Bernard clones, and thus they are less of a tricky proposition to correctly balance and manage; they are, in essence less fragile and less fussy — albeit strictly within the bounds of reason and moderation. Over-irrigation and over-feeding must nevertheless be avoided in the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones; it the other extreme, opposing vine stress, and its consequences in the form of big crops of big-berried big bunches and dilute simple wines are every bit as much to be avoided. Sensible, diligently applied vine balance is the key, of course.

GRAD 2 series Pinot noir clone under the nursery code designation ‘RM95’. Typical Pinot fine scarlet / carmine / Chinese red shows in the young upper leaves, along with distinctly 5-lobed leaves.

Fruit-set in the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones can be affected, as in most high quality Pinot noir, by cool spring conditions or spring rain. However, my long observation of these clones has shown that in poor springs they tend more often than not to set what I call ‘hen and pullets’ mixed-berry bunches, not true hen and chickens, and while bunch weights can be down from 130 – 120 grams to 80 – 100 grams, average berry size (and potential wine dry extract which usually significantly reflects this) favours very high quality parameters under these conditions. By comparison, I have seen many instances where the ‘Dijon’ Bernard clones produce many ‘chickens’ under the same cold spring conditions — generally leading to high pH musts, premature / green or purple (under-ripe) raisining, and harsh wines. This is definitely an instance therefore where a measure of extra robustness and a touch of superior fertility and weather tolerance is highly beneficial in Pinot noir — and compared to the ‘Dijon’ Bernard clones, those of GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series very much deliver on this front.

This is the earliest-ripening clone in the GRAD 2 series, indicated in the nursery here by its ‘F’ identification on its (obscured) label. The almost certain original source of this clone is a single ex-D.S.I.R. explant held at the Ruakura Research Centre by M.A.F. in the 1970s. (Beyond these facts, the exact provenance of this distinctive clone is rather enigmatic.) This clone’s fruit will mature about 7 days before the likes of the Dijon / Bernard clones, and given this early-ripening disposition, planting it in hot sites should be avoided, as should picking of this clone’s fruit much above 24 Brix: surmaturity in a clone like this is unnecessary and unwise as it degrades its quality, and strips its finesse.

Growth in GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones is typical of high health robust Pinot fine. Canes of 1.5 metres extension are readily achievable in balanced well managed vines, allowing plenty of leaf (including upper shoot laterals) for fruit ripening even after full fruit zone leaf-plucking. These vines are whippy-shooted would-be semi-recumbent growers of course: they do not want to grow upright and, ideally, manual shoot placement (with in-trellis clipping or tying to fix canes in position) is necessary if training in V.S.P. trellis is to undertaken for the production of wines of the highest quality made from unshaded fruit formed on uncrowded canes.

My own preference is to eschew V.S.P. trellises altogether for all Pinot fine.  I instead use my Atkinson Single Curtain, downward shoot-positioned, trellis and training method based on single Guyot pruning of vines planted at 5,000 / ha (2M x 1M) with a fruit wire at 1.5 meters height and four pairs of foliage wires evenly spaced below that. The resultant hedges grow downwards (except for two ‘off the head spur’ canes trained on an upper pair of wires above the fruit wire, at 1.8 metres height). This system gives excellent fruit exposure with easy leaf plucking and it facilitates great comfort for, and ease of, intensive manual canopy management, thinning, pruning, and harvesting. Pinot fine take to this system like ducks to water, and I developed it precisely because V.S.P. simply does not suit the natural non-upright growth habit of this creme de la creme ‘fine’ phenotype of Pinot.


Qualitative potential

Leaf of GRAD Series 2 Pinot noir clone denominated under nursery code ‘CSTWS’. This shows the typical UCD4 Pinot noir line’s leaf: dusky mid-green, only slightly to moderately 5-lobed, and slightly wider than it is deep. This particular GRAD-selected genetic line traces back to material given to Corbans in the mid- to late-1960s by Frank Berrysmith. This line may therefore be the closest of all the GRAD Series 2 clones to the original 1963 import, although I still believe it is more likely than not that it was heat-treated in quarantine. This means that what was released in April 1965 was not the original U.C.D. material but the N.Z. heat-treated version — and thus it was always a distinct, N.Z.-created, clone right from release. The specific GRAD clonal line from this source is continuing to be held in my nursery for further development.

The fundamental reason for my spending the last 20 years selecting, re-selecting, and developing unique high quality genetic lines derived from very rare old remnant vines of ex-Berrysmith – McKissock / D.S.I.R. / M.A.F. lines of U.C.D.4 Pinot noir, is my conviction that they are members of an exceptionally good Pinot fine genetic line. I am convinced by what I have seen in both N.Z. and Australia, and by the copious evidence from western-states U.S., and British Columbia, that the qualitative potential of the best material developed from Harold Olmo’s original ‘Pommard’ selection largely eclipses what can be achieved by the Dijon / Bernard clones (give or take the sole possible exception of B667). In a nutshell: the best of the U.C.D. ‘Pommard’ genetic line clones deliver a depth, fleshiness, and sumptuousness in their wines that the Dijon / Bernard clones struggle to, and in several cases simply cannot, match. In the U.C.D.4 lines specifically, dark red cherry and spice notes are typically evident along with more botanical undertones ranging across a generous spectrum from violets to rainforest floor characters. As I have noted previously here, suggestions of (and sometimes, explicit comparisons to) Vosne – Romanée are on record with top wines made from this genetic line (and its ex-thermotherapy ‘sister’ U.C.D.5 line). Moreover, I have seen this expressed in New Zealand Pinot noirs I myself have been involved in producing (notably in various monoclonal cuvée components at Mountford in the early 2000s), and I know also that some of the top Tasmanian Pinot noir producers are also aware of this very high qualitative potential, never mind top producers in Oregon and British Columbia.

I genuinely believe we have reached ‘peak’ Dijon clone potential in this country and these Bernard lines have been overwhelmingly found wanting. To be sure, they are a big step up on Pinot droit (false-10/5), and the Swiss 10/5, 2/10, Bachtobel clones et al, but that is hardly a massive achievement qualitatively. Instead, the Dijon clones in New Zealand have overwhelmingly failed to produce wines of greatness, richness, and depth — and in my opinion it is because they can’t, and not because of winemaking failings or (all too common) indifferent site selection and viticultural practices. In the face of this, it is merely their received reputation and the depth of Francophile clonal-cultural cringe that infects our Pinot noir perceptions / mythology in this country that is keeping our producers clinging on to the Dijon clones in little more than hope.

Early spring shoot growth in GRAD Series 2 Pinot noir clone under the nursery code designation ‘RM96’. Note the carmine piping / margin on the upper edge of the shoot tip, and already-emerging scarlet anthocyanin on the sun-exposed side of the shoot. (This will darken to deep dusky cherry red as the shoot matures into the summer period. The lowest, entire / un-lobed, leaf is atypical; the balance of the shoot’s leaves will be 5-lobed in the classic manner of quality Pinot fine.

The GRAD 2 clone series of Pinot noir offers a very serious, carefully and systematically selected and locally developed, alternative that derives from genetic material of clearly very high quality. Like the widely misunderstood and under-rated Abel clone, the GRAD clone series (development of which is now continuing into its third decade) offers more and better than is being achieved here from the Dijon clones. And that is why I have spent 20 years so far developing the GRAD 2 clones (and the GRAD 1 meristem cultured clones as well). These clones’ class is both genetic and local-selection-driven, and I strongly commend them to New Zealand producers accordingly.

Ripening period

One of the GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones tends to be an early ripener — on a par with U.C.D. 6 Pinot noir; about a week earlier than the other clones in this series. It is derived from an obscure Ruakura Research Station remnant vine of the ca. 1970 D.S.I.R. heat-treated versions of Frank Berrysmith’s 1963 U.C.D.4 Pinot noir import.

The balance of GRAD® no. 2 Pinot noir series clones ripen either slightly earlier than the likes of U.C.D.5 or the ‘Dijon’ Bernard clones 114 and 115, or at the same time as these clones.


Established mothervines (mostly over ten years old) that had been grown in PB95 / 50 litre poly-bag ‘pots’ in the GRAD® Christchurch R&D nursery, were sent to Stanmore Farm in winter 202o. These consisted in three of the currently available 2-Series clones. At least one further clone is likely to be sent to Stanmore Farm ca. 2021-22, and several more that are still under development and observation are likely to follow over the next few years. Grafting wood should be available from the initial trio of releases in this clone 2 Series of Pinot noir from 2022 onward, although a small amount of buds may be available in 2021. Inquire directly to Stanmore Farm Nursery for further details.



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
Fax: 06 364 3172

Forward grafting orders may be placed now for supply subject to budwood availability. Quantities available will increase significantly as bulking up of mother vines and the introduction of further and new clones in this exclusive GRAD® Pinot noir series continues.

Please note that 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 ‘fingerprinting’ and clonal traceability

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


For further information about the GRAD® 2 series Pinot noir clones, contact Dr. Gerald Atkinson at .

Questions about this wine grape? Contact us.

Author: Dr. Gerald Atkinson

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