The genus Vitis is home to the temperate climate zones of the northern hemisphere. Its members are woody shrubs or lianas that climb in trees by means of their leaf-opposed tendrils. Although this genus is thought to comprise about 60 extant species spread mostly throughout Asia and North America (Alleweldt and Possingham 1988, Wan et al. 2008), the Eurasian species Vitis vinifera L. gave rise to the great majority of modern grape cultivars that are being grown for the production of wine, table grapes, dried grapes (raisins), grape juice and brandy. While several American species have become important, and typically inter-specific, crossing partners in rootstock breeding programs, their direct genetic influence on

wine, juice and other cultivars has been minor. Similarly, despite some interesting disease resistance traits, most Asian species have remained obscure (Wan et al. 2007, Li et al. 2008).