Who’s Your Daddy?: Kerner

The “Who’s Your Daddy” series takes a very brief look at the parentage of grapes, in order to get a better understanding of where particular varietals come from and how they are genetically related to one another.  So far, we’ve covered: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Chardonnay, Gaglioppo di Cirò, Gamay, Merlot, Müller-Thurgau, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Ortega, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Pošip bijeli, Rotgipfler, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Torrentés riojano, and also the grapes from the USDA grape germplasm collection. Feel free to click on any one of the varietal names to read all about their parentage.

Photo By Rosenzweig (Own work (own picture)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Rosenzweig (Own work (own picture)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The subject of today’s Who’s Your Daddy post is a grape that I’ve never heard of before. As you are probably well aware, there are only really a handful of grape varieties that make up the vast majority of wines that are sold in stores, whereas in reality, there are hundreds of different varieties that have been and currently are made into wines all over the globe.

As a reminder, diversity is important not only for a little variety in your life, but more importantly for the overall health and sustainability of the wine industry as a whole, particularly in this time of climate change. Here is just one example of that diversity:

Without further ado, the focus of this “Who’s Your Daddy?” post is the Kerner grape variety (Vitis vinifera).

Brief History

The origins of Kerner are not too hard to find, considering its creation was relatively well documented compared to many other thousands of wine grapes whose origins are unknown.

Kerner, a white wine grape, was created in the greenhouse in 1929 by August Herold in Lauffen, Württemberg, Germany. The name “Kerner” was assigned to the grape in honor of a German physician and poet named Justinus Kerner. This particular poet was selected due to his works on wine (and if I can ever get my hands on some of this I’ll update this post at that time!).

Photo Friedrich Brandseph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Friedrich Brandseph [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The plant stayed in the laboratory/greenhouse setting for quite some time, but by 1969 was granted vartietal protection and given approval for commercial production. Finally, in 1993, it was given DOC status by the Italian Demoninazion di Origine Controllata.

Most of the plantings of Kerner are currently all over Germany, with greater concentrations planted in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen regions. The acreage of Kerner is somewhat uncertain; with some sites referencing 8,000 hectares while others referencing only 3,700 hectares. I’m not certain of the date published, but probably the figure I would trust most would be from the Wines of Germany website itself, which states that there are currently about 3,500 hectares of Kerner planted in Germany. In addition to Germany, Kerner is also found in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, England, and Japan.


The Kerner grape seems to do best under cool climate conditions, which is evident from where we see it located around the globe. The plant itself is known to be relatively vigorous, and is ideally suited to be grown on a medium-vigorous rootstock like SO4.

A later “bud breaker”, the Kerner grapes are medium sized, relatively compact, and very cold tolerant. In fact, Kerner vines have been known to survive in temperatures are low as -10oC. Kerner also tends to produce high yields and ripens well on a regular basis.

Kerner is not picky in terms of its soil type preference, though it tends to be cultivated on sunny slopes and up to 900 meters in altitude.

Winemaking & Tasting Notes

Note: I have never had any Kerner myself, so any and all tasting notes or sensory descriptors come from other people’s thoughts and opinions. You may find those full descriptions at many of the links provided below.

Kerner is a white wine grape, and has been likened by many to Riesling and other similar aromatic grapes/wine. It tends to be a rich and flavorful wine, often with a full bodied fruitiness. Compared to Riesling, Kerner tends to have lower acidity (though higher acidity compared to other white wines) and a more full-bodied mouthfeel.

According to the German Wine website (link below), Kerner wines “are fresh, racy and fruity – not unlike Riesling – yet milder in acidity, with a more pronounced bouquet, often with a Muscat tone.”

Based on the description of this wine, it sounds quite lovely and if I wasn’t pregnant right now, I’d buy myself a bottle as soon as possible! That being said, once I am able to drink wine again, Kerner will certainly be high on the list of wines to try. If you have recommendations for me in terms of your favorite Kerners (that I can buy in the United States), feel free to let me know in the comments!

Who’s Your Daddy?

Since Kerner was purposely created in the lab, it is no surprise who the parents are, but if you are like me and aren’t familiar with Kerner grape history, you can at least say you learned one thing today.

The parents of Kerner are……

Photo By Rosenzweig (Own work (own picture)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Rosenzweig (Own work (own picture)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons






Photo By Bernt Rostad (originally posted to Flickr as Riesling grapes) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Bernt Rostad (originally posted to Flickr as Riesling grapes) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There you have it! Now you know the genetic parentage of the Kerner grape, as well as a teeny bit of its history. I hope you enjoyed this little lesson and stay tuned for the next installment of the Who’s Your Daddy series whenever that may be!

Further Reading:

Fringe Wine: Kerner-Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy

Germanwine.de: Kerner-white vine variety

Italian Wine, Food, and Travel: Kerner-An Amazingly Aromatic White from Sudtirol

That Useful Wine Site: About Kerner

Wein-Plus: Kerner

The Wine Economist: Invisible Wine…Revealed

Wines of Germany: Kerner

Winelover’s Page: Offbeat grape – Kerner

Wine-Searcher: Kerner Wine

1 comment for “Who’s Your Daddy?: Kerner

  1. August 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

    For more information on Kerner, and the music his poetry inspired, here is a link that talks about the poem and the music by Schumann: http://classical-iconoclast.blogspot.com/2015/01/robert-schumann-kerner-lieder-op-35.html

    We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Kerner from Weingut Huff in the Rheinhessen for the past 8 years here in Chicago and have learned a few things about it – first is that most are too sweet. This is a grape that contributes to Liebfraumilch and can be sold easily in bulk to large producers. When done well, it tastes like a cross between Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc with acidity, citrus and some sweetness the way that a 11% Riesling Kabinet might be expected to taste.

    In the case of Huff’s Kerner, it’s bottled with a touch of CO2, which balances the sugar and makes it quite refreshing. I know that in Italy it can be made into a more expensive wine, but my experience has been that it doesn’t show dramatic differences from one price point to the next if made with care.

    Hope you will seek some out, it is a grape we’ve had great fun sharing in Chicago.

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