Rootstock is essentially the root system of a grape vine. Each rootstock type has its advantages, from disease resistance to nutrient delivery, and it's important to choose the right rootstock for each vineyard location. We use nine different types of rootstock at J Vineyards & Winery, matching them to specific soil types and depths to achieve balanced growth and appropriate vine vigor. The diversity of locations, soils, trellising, rootstocks and clones gives our winemaking team a tremendous range of flavor profiles to choose from when crafting J wines.


The main benefits that rootstocks provide, in addition to phylloxera tolerance, are:

  • Nematode resistance
  • Soil salinity (salt) tolerance
  • Drought tolerance
  • Increased berry set
  • Increased or decreased vigor
  • Advanced fruit maturity
  • Lime tolerance
  • Soil acidity tolerance


No single rootstock can meet the different challenges of every vineyard site, and each rootstock has its own particular functions. When choosing rootstocks for our vineyards, we consider some of the following characteristics:

  • AXR1 — insufficient phylloxera tolerance. Vines are vigorous and need to be pruned lightly to achieve balance. Rootstocks are difficult to propagate but graft readily. Not suggested for high quality vineyards or fertile soils.
  • 5BB — quite vigorous rootstock suited for humid clay soils. Moderate nematode resistance. Used mostly in Germany.
  • 5C — similar to 5BB in aptitude and mostly used in Germany. Our Pinot Gris is planted with 5C.
  • 101-14 — low vigor and early maturity. Used in some of France's higher quality vineyards. Excellent resistance to phylloxera, but only moderate nematode tolerance. Shallow root system and tolerates only low lime content.
  • 420 A — highly regarded for good quality vineyards and recommended for chalky soils. Low-vigor rootstock, hastens maturity. High phylloxera tolerance but low-to-moderate nematode tolerance. High tolerance to limestone but susceptible to waterlogging.
  • 3309 — high phylloxera tolerance and medium lime tolerance. Better suited to humid than drought-prone soils.
  • SO4 — excellent phylloxera resistance and tends to favor fruit set and slightly advanced maturity. Moderate vigor and tolerance to nematodes. Unsuitable for dry conditions.
  • 4453 — does not readily absorb magnesium, so works well in high-magnesium sites such as many hillsides.

Pinot Gris vines in Cooper Vineyard.

Pinot Noir in Robert Thomas Vineyard.