Lieselehof – Resistant viticulture with PIWI Grapes

Executive Summary

“PIWI“ is a German abbreviation and stands for fungus resistant grape varieties. These were created by crossing European grape varieties and American fungus resistant varietals.

The resilience towards the illnesses in vines comes from the fact that these varieties are Hybrids between American/Asian vines (which have a natural resistance towards Peronospora and Oidium) and traditional vines from Europe (Chardonnay, Riesling etc.). Dr. Bronner from Freiburg, Germany started the process in 1826. Not in the laboratory, but rather in a completely natural way, using flower crossing.

A century later, many good results were already there. Due to the pressure from the Chemistry lobby, almost every single one of the PIWI vines was declared illegal to plant. Only after decades of hard work later, done by small wine producers and pioneers of PIWI, the people are slowly understanding and getting to know this world of vines.

Due to a lot of research today we have proof that many substances used in viticulture cause cancer in animals and humans and are the main reason for billions of bees dying every year.

If together we can not only save money but also save the environment by planting more and more of these vines then we truly have understood the necessity and value of these vines and nature. Let’s stop contaminating the planet and our bodies and let’s start saving lives and preserving nature.

Sustainable Target:

Our target is to produce high quality wines from vines that are not treated chemically during the year, this is feasible with so-called PIWI grapes (PIWI is the German abbreviation for “resistant to illness”).


There are hundreds of partners all over Europe, all the way to Sweden and Lithuania, where wine producers grow Solaris grapes (Solaris is the most known white PIWI variety)

Company Summary:

LIESELEHOF started planting Piwi vines in 2002 and has now specialized itself in white and sparkling wine production, all out of PIWI varieties.

Lieselehof prides itself in only producing high quality wines. Proof are numerous prices and evaluations from wine guides and critics, which award the wines up 97/100 points. The sparkling wine was also mentioned in the Forbes magazine.

Reason Why/Motivation/Background:

Our motivation is to create a world full of nature and not chemicals. We love our planet and all its animals and want to preserve global biodiversity with our work and not damage it.

Project Description:

Production of PIWI wines from PIWI grapes is similar to regular viticulture, the only thing that changes is when you plant your vineyard you plant PIWI vines. After that every step is the same.

When comparing PIWI Varieties to traditional varieties the differences are quite substantial. LIESELEHOF grows next to BRONNER/JOHANNITER and SOUVIGNIER GRIS (all three PIWI grapes) also PINOT BLANC, GEWÜRZTRAMINER and CABERNET SAUVIGNON. Nearly all vineyards are in close proximity to each other, meaning that precipitation, temperature and wind conditions are very similar for all varieties we have. They all grow between 250m and 500m. We have a precipitation of 800mm/year and an average temperature of 10.8° C. We use organic methods to grow the traditional varieties. Meaning that we have to treat the vineyards with Sulfur, Copper and sometimes NatriumBicarbonat once to twice a week from the end of April to mid-August. This results into 15-20 treatments per year.

When it comes to our PIWI vineyards, the treatments are so few that it is difficult to remember when we treated them. For our BRONNER/JOHANNITER and SOUVIGNIER GRIS vineyards, we treated them once in 2004, 2014 and 2020. These three years were very wet, warm and humid years for our area. In 2014, for example the longest dry period during the summer was 76 hours (!!!). This shows that even in very harsh conditions the PIWI vines resist infection.

The result is 3 treatments in 20 years of growing PIWI grapes.

Our SOLARIS vines on the other hand grow in the Dolomite Mountains on 1250m where it is much cooler and a little windier. The vines were planted in 2009 and so far, we have never treated them. The result here: 0 treatments in 12 years.

PIWI varieties allow us to produce high quality wines, renouncing almost completely to chemical treatments. Besides saving a lot of money, you save many working hours and preserve the environment, including vines, soil, animals and insects.

Treatments for traditional varieties per year: 15-20

Treatments for traditional varieties per decade: 1-5


Lieselehof prides itself in only producing high quality wines. Proof are numerous prices and evaluations from wine guides and critics, which award the wines up 97/100 points. The sparkling wine was also mentioned in the Forbes magazine.

Our vineyards have become the home of countless species of animals, insects, and legumes. The special biodiversity brings balance into our vineyards and the surrounding nature.

Lessons Learned:

  •  The wine quality of PIWI wines is at the same level than other varieties, in some territories even better, due to the biodiversity in the vineyards and the lack of chemicals.
    o Here it is important to acknowledge that white PIWI wines have been tested and researched more than red varieties, therefore the results regarding the wine quality are better in white PIWI wines. The reason for that is that most of the research was conducted in Germany by German Institutes, which focused much more on white wine production than red, due to their cooler climate. This does not mean that red PIWI wines cannot compete with non-PIWI reds; I believe they just need more time.
  • When it comes to pests control, PIWI varieties tend to behave like the Vitis Vinifera varieties. In our vineyards, for example, we do not use any form of chemicals, but SPINOSAD in case of strong pressure by the DROSOPHILA SUZUKII. Before we treat vines with SPINOSAD we use many different natural methods to reduce the damage caused by this insect, for example, planting varieties that do not have compact but rather loose grapes with thick skin, creating more space between branches and grapes when pruning and doing leaf work before full flowering, keeping grass and weeds low by cutting them regularly (natural habitat of this insect). Treatments with SPINOSAD are always the last resort.

The DROSOPHILA SUZUKII causes damage only in red varieties whose berries tend to have thin skin. Due to the healthy biodiverse environment in our vineyards, there is a balance between harmful insects and beneficial organisms. This allows us to renounce to chemicals.

  • Organic and Biodynamic viticulture has reduced the chemical footprint already, but it is not enough due to the high number of treatments with copper and sulfur, which is still extremely damaging to wildlife and bees.

Therefore, the correct way to maintain the natural balance is to NOT treat vines with chemicals. The damage is not only done to the vines but to all the organisms and animals surrounding vineyards including us humans.

We are convinced that the PIWI varieties are the only way to reduce the use of chemicals by a substantial amount in the vineyard now.

We do not think that creating or accepting new varieties, which are not PIWI vines, is helpful to our planet and our society. Research has proven that the use of chemicals is extremely harmful and damaging to our environment and non-beneficial when fighting climate change.

Next Steps:

Future steps will be to transform our complete production into PIWI wines, as for now 75% of our vineyards are PIWI vines, while the other quarter are Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Pinot blanc and Pinot Noir which we treat organically.

Potential For Replication:

Hundreds of wine producers all around Europe have followed our footsteps and produce delightful products. PIWI vines grow in every country and are our only way to preserve the environment because organic and biodynamically treated vineyards still need to be sprayed with Sulfur and copper up to 20 times per year, which is extremely damaging to bee populations, other animals and humans.







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