HELLENIFERA is a research center specialized in grapevine clonal selection and in the prospection, study, rescue and certification of rare and rich plant material of grapevine varieties in the south-eastern Mediterranean.
It is a globally unique collaboration, where a nursery, VNB, and the world's largest vine organization, the French Institute of Vine and Wine (IFV), work together in one of the most historic and oldest vineyards in the world.
Hellenifera has started its activities since 2004, carrying out numerous research missions in Greece, Cyprus and the Balkans. During these missions more than 280 known and unknown varieties and more than 1500 candidate clones have been identified.
The process of clonal selection begins with the detection of candidate clones in old vines in the places of origin of the varieties. The expertise of the Montpellier and VNB scientific teams, guarantees a targeted and successful labeling of clones.
These candidate clones, after 3 years of monitoring the stability of the characteristics for which they were marked, are collected for the purpose of their phytosanitary and genetic analysis.
HELLENIFERA sends the collected samples to the French Institute of Vine and Wine (IFV) in Montpellier where ELISA and PCR tests are carried out in order to establish whether the sample is free from the main vine viruses.
At the same time, genetic identification is carried out where it is deemed appropriate and necessary. This identification results from the analysis of the SSR markers of the sample, according to the database of the genetic material bank of INRA in Vassal. Genetic identification is a highly valuable process as homonyms (similar name for different varieties) and synonyms (different name for the same variety) are quite common.
After these preliminary checks, sanitization of the plant material follows when required. More than 85% of the candidate clones need this procedure. The unique experience of the IFV laboratories in Montpellier, France, guarantees the best and most ideal result.
The moment for the final control has arrived and is carried out by grafting the candidate plant material onto indicator plants, the so-called Indexing. The only official method worldwide thus far, that can guarantee 100% purity of the plant material from the viruses that concern us.
Once all the above procedures are completed and the results for both the phytosanitary status and the identity of the plant material is confirmed, HELLENIFERA proceeds with the propagation of cuttings and their introduction into the specially designed insect-proof greenhouses in Leontio Nemeas, Greece. All the healthy samples are preserved there and become part of the first official bank of healthy genetic material in Greece.
The selected and healthy plant material is installed in the mountainous region of Argolida, in the area of Alea: (37°46'01.7''N & 22°28'09.7''E). There, in VNB's mother plantations, all Hellenifera clones are planted.
It is a unique area, because of its characteristics: altitude of 630 meters, Huglin Index of 2400, Cool Night Index Cl+1 13°C, average annual rainfall of 650 mm and most importantly isolated from conventional vineyards.
All the experimental vineyards with the new clones of Hellenifera are located at this location. The planting density is 4000 plants / hectare, the training system is double Royat, with 8-10 heads per plant. The height of the trunk is 80 cm and the soil is of medium texture with a high content of gravel.
Agronomic and oenological measurements are carried out on grapes harvested from these experimental vineyards. Starting in 2014, Hellenifera now has more than 8 years of data on its first clones. These measurements are always complemented by micro-vinifications, and blind tastings of the wines, by Hellenifera's special team.
So from 2022 Hellenifera is pleased to release its first 20 clones.