Rootstock Selection

Specialising in propagating top quality, grafted grape plants for the New Zealand wine grower market.

Rootstock Selection

The following guide has been developed by Ormond Nurseries in conjunction with experienced NZ viticulturists.  This guide is to help you gain a basic understanding of the rootstock options you have and their relative strengths and weaknesses in NZ conditions.  It is, however, generalised and does not take into account the particular soils and conditions of your site.  We strongly encourage you to seek independent expert advice before making your rootstock choice. 

Please remember that the most important points to consider are: the use of grafted vines to avoid phylloxera, and to plant only certified grape plants.  

The first question to always ask is ‘What is your soil type.’
It is also important to consider if you are:

  • Developing a new site
  • Replacing individual vines
  • Planning total replant

The chart below will provide you with a selection of general points to take into account when considering rootstock selection.  If you do require more specific information, please contact our office.   

101-14    -  The Thoroughbred
  • Good with saline soils
  • Avoid heavy soils
  • Succeptible to trunk diseases – avoid using if you have an ‘imperfectly’ drained site.
  • Has had a bad reputation with some incidence of Black Goo.
  • Best in fresh clay/moist deep soils
  • Slightly more vigorous than 3309
  • Not recommended to use in an organic vineyard, as it does not handle stress
3306   -  The Quarterhorse
  • Underrated rootstock
  • A bit behind 3309 in terms of vigour
  • Best to use in frost prone sites as it delays budburst
  • Recommended to use in heavy, clay soils
Paulsen, Richter and Other Drought Tolerant Rootstocks – The Bucking Broncos
  • High vigour stock
  • Very deep branching tap roots
  • Designed for dry land viticulture in drought prone areas
  • Not much known about them in NZ, as it is hardly planted at all

Schwarzmann   -  The Stubborn/Working Mule
  • Medium vigour, and good with ‘wet feet’
  • If you have an ugly part of the vineyard (i.e., poorly drained) then Schwarzmann is a good choice
  • Popularity has diminished due to tight bunch architecture (although undervine competition is seeing to negate this)
  • One of the slowest for re-establishment
  • Ideal for rogueing, but not a total replant
  • Earliest rootstock for bud burst
Riparia Gloire   -  The Lipizzaner Stallion
  • Underrated rootstock
  • Low vigour
  • Drought poor
  • Definitely a place for it on heavier sites
  • Slow to establish (less an extra year to get going), especially if it is not well looked after
  • Slower for the first 3 years, but once it is away it is worth the effort
  • Early ripening
  • Impacts favourably with Sauvignon Blanc (could be a result of sugar accumulation)
3309   -  The Quarterhorse
  • Most versatile, ‘go-to’ rootstock
  • General purpose. Currently most popular rootstock for NZ conditions.
  • Use it in problem soils, as it can handle a range of soil types from fresh deep non/clay soils to stony sites.
  • Delay in bud burst so you can use it in cooler parts of the vineyard.
  • Good to use with close plantings.
  • Best for use with HI-STEM® vines
SO4/5C   -  The Clydesdale
  • High vigour
  • Avoid rich soils
  • Strong place in Marlborough, especially on stony soils
  • Good with ‘wet feet’ but readily takes up moisture, leading to berry splitting
  • Weak point is taking up magnesium (not a soil nutrition issue, but if you plant it, make sure you are using a foliar fertiliser).
  • Very few incidents where you will use it with a red variety


Rootstock Comparative Charts

Click on a chart to expand.

Got a minute? Check out our recent articles:

Soil Preparation for Vineyard Redevelopments

Many Marlborough vineyards are now looking at a redevelopment programme, either to replace existing vineyard with a high level of trunk disease, change varieties (usually from something else to Sauvignon Blanc) or else to reduce row spacing or increase vine density to increase yield per hectare.


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