A worldwide unique collection

The Vassal-Montpellier Grapevine Biological Resources Center (Grapevine-BRC) is the French central ampelographic collection. Due to its size and richness, it is the reference repository at international level. The Grapevine-BRC is at present hosted by the INRA Experimental Unit of Domaine de Vassal (Marseillan-plage, Hérault). Its transfer to the INRA Pech Rouge Experimental Unit (Gruissan, Aude) is under progress.

Established in 1876 at the Montpellier school for agriculture (today Montpellier SupAgro), this collection is located since 1949 on the Vassal Estate (Domaine de Vassal, Marseillan-plage) where it has been enhanced over the years. It is comprised today of over 7800 accessions originating from ca 50 countries.

The grapevine BRC is entirely dedicated to the conservation, characterization and valorization of grapevine genetic resources. It moderates, together with the French Institute for Vine and Wine (IFV), the French network of Grapevine repositories, which brings together more than 30 professional partners. It also takes part in research programs at national, European and international levels.

General presentation

For the past 140 years, this collection has continuously been enriched by gifts (from ancient local collections, viticulturists, nursery operators, non-professionals…) as well as through collecting trips performed in France with the local partners and abroad with scientists or Research Institutes. Paul Truel, former director of the collection from 1954 to 1984, was greatly instrumental in the introduction, description, and precise identification of numerous grapevine varieties.

The repository is comprised today of grapevines originating from 54 grape-growing countries representing: 2700 “cépages” (cultivated grapevine varieties), 350 wild grapevines, 1 100 interspecific hybrids, 400 rootstock varieties and 60 species in the Vitaceae. This richness and diversity make this grapevine collection unique in the world.

The grapevines maintained are subjected to morphological, phenological, agronomical, technological, sanitary, genetic and bibliographical characterization. The aim of these studies is to identify the varieties and fully assess their potential to meet the expectations of scientists, breeders, professionals of the grapevine industry, and the general public. This results in a unique collection of documents comprising varietal files (5000), herbaria (over 14 000 files), a specialized library, a photographic library (50 000 photos) and a computerized database accessible through the Internet.

Redactor: Ph. Chatelet