Hermann Müller (Thurgau)
Hermann Müller, born October 21, 1850 in Tägerwilen
Tägerwilen is a municipality in the district of Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland.-Geography:Tägerwilen has an area, , of . Of this area, or 47.5% is used for agricultural purposes, while or 37.4% is forested...

 in the canton of Thurgau
Thurgau is a northeast canton of Switzerland. The population, , is . In 2007, there were a total of 47,390 who were resident foreigners. The capital is Frauenfeld.-History:...

, died January 18, 1927 in Wädenswil

, was a Swiss botanist
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, plant physiologist
Plant physiology
Plant physiology is a subdiscipline of botany concerned with the functioning, or physiology, of plants. Closely related fields include plant morphology , plant ecology , phytochemistry , cell biology, and molecular biology.Fundamental processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, plant nutrition,...

, oenologist
Oenology,[p] œnology , or enology is the science and study of all aspects of wine and winemaking except vine-growing and grape-harvesting, which is a subfield called viticulture. “Viticulture & oenology” is a common designation for training programmes and research centres that include both the...

 and grape breeder. He called himself Müller-Thurgau, taking the name of his home canton.


Müller initially attended a teachers' seminar in Kreuzlingen
Kreuzlingen is a municipality in the district of Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau in north-eastern Switzerland. It is the seat of the district and is the second largest city of the canton, after Frauenfeld, with a population of over 18,000...

 and worked as a teacher in Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein is a municipality in the canton of Schaffhausen in Switzerland.The town has a well-preserved medieval centre, retaining the ancient street plan. The site of the city wall, and the city gates are preserved, though the former city wall now consists of houses...

 1869–1870. In 1870 he enrolled at the Polytechnikum Zürich
ETH Zurich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich or ETH Zürich is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the City of Zurich, Switzerland....

 and graduated with a diploma in 1872. He then went to the University of Würzburg
University of Würzburg
The University of Würzburg is a university in Würzburg, Germany, founded in 1402. The university is a member of the distinguished Coimbra Group.-Name:...

 for graduate studies under Julius von Sachs
Julius von Sachs
Julius von Sachs was a German botanist from Breslau, Prussian Silesia.At an early age he showed a taste for natural history, becoming acquainted with the Breslau physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkyně. In 1851 he began studying at Charles University in Prague...

, was awarded his doctorate in 1874 and stayed some time as Sachs' assistant. During the years 1876-1890 he worked at the Prussian Institute for Horticulture and Viticulture (Königlich Preussische Lehranstalt für Obst- und Weinbau) in Geisenheim
Geisenheim is a town in the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt in Hessen, Germany, and is known as Weinstadt , Schulstadt , Domstadt and Lindenstadt ....

, Rheingau
The Rheingau is the hill country on the north side of the Rhine River between Wiesbaden and Lorch near Frankfurt, reaching from the western Taunus to the Rhine. It lies in the state of Hesse and is part of the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis administrative district...

 where he led its experimental station for plant physiology.

In 1891 he was called back to Switzerland and the position as director of the newly created Experimental Station and School for Horticulture and Viticulture (Versuchsstation und Schule für Obst-, Wein- und Gartenbau) in Wädenswil, where he stayed until his retirement in 1924. From 1902 he was also connected to Polytechnikum Zürich as professor of botany.

In 1890, he was made an honorary member of the German Viticultural Association and in 1920 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bern.

Müller researched and published on a wide range of topics in viticulture and winemaking, including the biology of vine flowering, assimilation of nutrients by the vine, vine diseases, alcoholic fermentation of wine
Fermentation (wine)
The process of fermentation in wine turns grape juice into an alcoholic beverage. During fermentation, yeast interact with sugars in the juice to create ethanol, commonly known as ethyl alcohol, and carbon dioxide...

, breeding of strains of yeast with specific properties, malolactic fermentation
Malolactic fermentation
Malolactic fermentation is a process in winemaking where tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grape must, is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid. Malolactic fermentation tends to create a rounder, fuller mouthfeel. It has been said that malic acid tastes of green apples...

, development of wine fault
Wine fault
A wine fault or defect is an unpleasant characteristic of a wine often resulting from poor winemaking practices or storage conditions, and leading to wine spoilage. Many of the compounds that cause wine faults are already naturally present in wine but at insufficient concentrations to adversely...

s, and methods for producing alcohol-free grape juice.

Breeding of the Müller-Thurgau grape variety

During his time in Geisenheim, he created the grape variety Müller-Thurgau
Müller-Thurgau is a variety of white grape which was created by Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882. It is a crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale. It is used to make white wine in Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Hungary, England, in Australia, Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

 in a breeing programme initiated in 1882, by crossing Riesling
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally...

 with Madeleine Royale
Madeleine Royale
Madeleine Royale is a variety of white grape. It is mostly grown for table grapes or ornamental purposes, but is notable as a parent of Müller-Thurgau and Madeleine Angevine. It ripens extremely early, in some cases by the 22 July, the feast day of Mary Magdalene - hence the name.-History:Madeleine...

, although for a long time it was erroneously assumed to be Riesling x Silvaner
Sylvaner or Silvaner is a variety of white wine grape grown primarily in Alsace and Germany, where its official name is Grüner Silvaner. In Germany it is best known as a component of Liebfraumilch and production boomed in the 1970s to the detriment of quality, but it has long enjoyed a better...

. Müller's aim with his programme was indeed to try to combine the aromatic properties of Riesling with the earlier and more reliable ripening of Silvaner. Experimental plantations continued in Geisenheim until 1890, and in 1891 150 plants were shipped to Wädenswil where trials continued, with Heinrich Schellenberg (1868-1967) handling the practical work there. The most successful clone of the trials (serial number 58) was propagated in 1897 under the designation Riesling x Silvaner 1. Vines of this variety were distributed in Switzerland and abroad from 1908, and in 1913, 100 vines of this variety was brought back to Germany by August Dern (1858-1930), who had been a coworker of Müller in Geisenheim. It was Dern who introduced the name Müller-Thurgau for the variety, while Müller himself continued to call it Riesling x Silvaner 1, although he did himself express some doubts that this was the actual parentage of the new variety, and speculated that some misidentification of vine material could have taken place in the move from Geisenheim to Wädenswil.

Many experimental plantations of Müller-Thurgau in Germany was conducted from 1920, and its breakthrough from 1938 is credited to the grape breeder Georg Scheu in Alzey
Alzey is a Verband-free town – one belonging to no Verbandsgemeinde – in the Alzey-Worms district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the fourth-largest town in Rhenish Hesse, after Mainz, Worms, and Bingen....

. In the middle of the 19th century it had attained the position as the most cultivated of any newly created grape varieties. It was the most planted grape variety of Germany from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, and is still the second-most planted.
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