Family ties reflecting the migratory movements of the Middle Ages

The oldest written records of cultivated vine varieties are dated to about 1000 years ago. These grape varieties, created from their involuntary successive sowings, have been selected over time by man for their cultural aptitudes or the quality of the wines made from their grapes. The tools of modern genetics allow us today to trace the filiations. The diagram below, which represents the kinship links between the main grape varieties of the Southwest, links our grape varieties to the history of French wine making. The presence in this “genealogy” of grape varieties such as Savagnin, Gouais, originating from eastern France or the Spanish Morrastel testifies to the great human migratory movements on the road to Santiago de Compostela. The genetic traces left by these pilgrimages on our grape varieties remain indelible.

*Main Southwest grape varietiesSecondary Southwest grape varietiesGrape varieties from other regions
Established relationship (both parents known) – arrow, Direct relationship (parent/child or sibling type) – dotted line


Among the most illustrious progenitors of the Southwest, we should mention Prunelard, which gave birth to Malbec, and especially Cabernet Franc, which gave birth to Carménère, the emblematic grape variety of Chile, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which, with nearly 250,000 hectares, is the second most planted grape variety in the world!

The elements presented are taken from the publication Large-scale parentage analysis an extended set of grapevine cultivars (Lacombe et al. 2012).