|History of Müller Thurgau|
The grape was originally bred by Dr. Hermann Müller of the
Swiss canton (state) of Thurgau. He presented the grape, then
known simply as "cross #58" to colleagues at Geisenheim University
in Germany in 1882. The grape was posthumously named after him.
Although Dr. Müller's notes indicated it was a cross between
Riesling and Silvaner, DNA testing in 1994 determined that
Riesling was indeed one of the parent plants, but that the other
parent was not Silvaner, and in fact, was not recognized at
all. Further DNA research establishes the other parent as
Chasselas de Courtillier. Apparently Dr. Ernest Loosen has
claimed it is Chasselas x Sylvaner, and Jancis Robinson has stated
researchers at Geilweilerhof claims it's Riesling x Madeleine
Royale. It has also been claimed to be Reisling x Madeleine
Angevine, but this would be difficult to distinguish from
Madeleine Sylvaner as MR is the parent of MS.
At this time (2007), this is the most widely planted grape in Germany and has been for decades. Unfortunately, it has been maligned by wine cognescenti, as it was used to produce vast quantities of lesser quality wines in the 1970's under the guise of Liebfraumilch.[4,5] (Example: "Appellation America, Varietal Character, Muller Thurgau".)
The grape was brought in to the Puget Sound AVA in the late 1970's by Gerard Bentryn of Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery. Gerard worked with Dr. Norton from W.S.U. Agricultural Research Station who in turn had brought the plants in from a nursery in British Columbia, Canada. Gerard planted a handful of vines at his original winery near the ferry dock in the town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island, and planted an additional approx. 3 acres at the Suyematsu Farm on Day Road.
My understanding is that the Müller Thurgau in Oregon state, USA came from this same material brought in by Dr. Norton.