Downy mildew resistance is a quantitative trait in grapevines of the genus Vitis. The grapevine ‘Bianca’ has retained resistance, originally present in its North American ancestors, through several cycles of backcrossing with susceptible cultivars of Vitis vinifera followed by phenotypic selection. The genetic control of the trait was studied using 116 full-siblings from the cross ‘Chardonnay’ x ‘Bianca’ and parental genetic maps consisting of 298 and 312 markers, respectively. Ratings of resistance and histological identification of the stage of interaction, when pathogen development is impaired in resistant individuals, were performed using leaf disc inoculation assays with two isolates of Plasmopara viticola collected in Italian and French vineyards. ‘Bianca’ and 59% of its offspring were heterozygous for a dominant gene, located in a 2.9 cM interval at the Rpv3 locus on chromosome 18, responsible for the onset of a hypersensitive response (HR) at the infection sites within 2 days post inoculation (dpi). Localised necrosis was the earliest phenotypic difference compared to susceptible individuals, it did not halt pathogen growth, but it was associated with a significant reduction of pathogen performance and disease symptoms from 3 to 6 dpi. QTL peaks for quantitative ratings revealed the strongest effects being caused by the Rpv3 locus: extent of mesophyll colonisation (LOD 3.1, percentage of explained phenotypic variance 16.2%), sporulation density (29.7, 74.3%), and symptom severity expressed by the OIV452 descriptor recommended by the Office International de la Vigne et du Vin (28.3, 74.6%). Strong correlation was observed between the ability of a seedling to mount an HR under controlled experimental conditions and quantitative resistance of the adult plant exposed to natural infections in the field, which was expressed by the number of leaves with fungal sporulation, in two consecutive years of observations. (We recommend that you consult the full text of this article).