Winegrowers Supplies -  Vine variety information

Dornfelder  (originally known as We. S 341)

Mother: Helfensteiner
Father: Heroldrebe

Year of breeding: 1955
Country of origin: Germany
Breeder/License holder: Staatliche Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt fur Wein- und Obstbau, Weinsberg
Number of clones:

Year of entry into the German Federal Office's Varieties Register: 1980
Area planted in Germany in 2000: 4372 hectares
Area planted in England (as at August 2004): 13.5 hectares, 13th largest

Wine Character - colour: dark red
                      - bouquet: light, fragrant, special
                      - palate: fruity, weighty, long lasting. Oak ageing is beneficial.

    photo from

Time of bud-burst: early-middle to middle

Strength of growth: very strong, upright (resulting in very long internodes)
Growth of side-shoots: low-medium

Flowering time: middle
Flowering strength: medium

Leaf: - size: large                                   - shape: five-lobed, coarsely toothed
        - colour: very dark green
        - surface undulation: medium-high    - petiolar sinus: closed, very overlapping
The leaves assimilate for a very long time if the vines can obtain enough nutrients.

Grape bunch: - size: large/very large    - density: loose
Berries:         - size: large                   - shape: round
                   - skin colour: blue-black (thick skin)
Early leaf-trimming of over-vigorous growth helps increase berry size and hence yield.

Time of veraison: middle
Time of harvest: quite late (the low sensitivity to disease and good stalk strength allow a late harvest, if the berries do not drop off)

Grape yield: high to very high. Very high yield reduces the wine quality.
Must-weight: medium (65 to 75 Oe, rarely above 80 Oe). In my Exmoor vineyard it ripens typically to about 64 Oe (8.3% natural alcohol), rarely above 65 Oe; only in 2003 did it achieve 74 Oe. Even with a low must-weight a harmonious wine can be produced.
Must-acidity: low to medium (about 2 g/l lower than Portugieser)

Wood ripening: medium to good (less good after a large harvest)
Winter hardiness: medium to high (less good after a large harvest)
Wood colour: yellow-brown

Chlorosis resistance: low
Susceptibility to - Oidium: low                   - Peronospora: medium
                       - Botrytis: low                  - Roter Brenner:
                       - Phomopsis:                    - Stem-atrophy: very strong stalks

Preferred soil: needs a strong growing soil; very dry soil is not suitable as these vines need to take up a lot of nutrients. A good level of Magnesium and Potassium is necessary with an optimum ratio of 2K:1Mg to give strong stalks.
Suitable rootstocks: SO4 (in dry soils 125AA and 5BB) (in fertile soils 5C)

Normal stem height: 0.6 to 0.8m
Normal row spacing: 1.8 to 2.0m
Vine spacing in the row: 1.5 metres; wide spacing is advantageous

Winter Pruning: 4 to 6 eyes/buds per sq. metre of land occupied by the plant.
                With a cane length of 10 buds. Short spur pruning results in very low yield, particularly in soils with low fertility.

Advantages: High yield, easy vineyard work (due to strong upright growth and low production of side-shoots), the bunches are very easy to pick, low sensitivity to chlorosis, wine is rich in colour and agreeable.

Disadvantages: Less good in dry soils. Large variation in the number of bunches per shoot, berries per bunch and bunch weight/size, depending on the weather, the fertility of the soil and the previous year's crop. Not recommended for windy sites.