University of California

The use of Botrytis cinerea Pers. in the production of sweet table wines


Klayton E. Nelson
Maynard A. Amerine

Authors Affiliations

Klayton E. Nelson was Lecturer in Viticulture and Assistant Viticulturalist in the Experiment Station, Davis; Maynard A. Amerine was Professor of Enology and Enologist in the Experiment Station, Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 26(12):521-563. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n12p521. May 1957.

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Fine sweet table wines of the Sauternes type owe their quality to a fungus, Botrytis cinerea Pers., which causes the affected grapes to, shrivel and the percentage of sugar per unit of volume to increase. The quantity of wine produced is relatively small, but its quality is proportionately high.

Although the fungus occurs wherever grapes are grown, climatic conditions favorable to its development prevail in only a few limited regions in Europe. Since California does not provide a suitable field environment for this desirable development of B. cinerea, a plant experiment was designed to provide the necessary conditions of temperature and relative humidity. Harvested grapes were placed on wire trays and sprayed with an aqueous suspension of the spores of the fungus. Most favorable results were obtained when spraying was followed by a 1- or 2-day infection period at 68° F and 95 to 100 per cent relative humidity, then by a dehydration period of 6 to 14 days with a temperature of 68° F and 50 to 70 per cent relctive humidity. Musts with Ballings of 30° to 40° were produced, and yields ranged from 50 to 100 gallons per ton (fresh weight).

In California, wine production from grapes infected with B. cinerea would have to be carried out under carefully controlled conditions, and the output would thus be limited. However, the findings of this study indicate that eventually California wine growers may be able to add a new and desirable wine type to their present production.

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Nelson K, Amerine M. 1957. The use of Botrytis cinerea Pers. in the production of sweet table wines. Hilgardia 26(12):521-563. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n12p521
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