Botryosphaeria dieback is an important grapevine trunk disease with global impact. Susceptibility differences between grape varieties manifest as different expression of canopy symptoms in the field. However, the cause of these dieback symptoms and their relation with wood necrosis remain only partially understood. As a first step towards future strategies for resistance breeding, wood necrosis was investigated over a large selection of the Vitaceae family members following artificial inoculation of the Botryosphaeriaceae fungi Neofusicoccum parvum and Diplodia seriata into woody internodes. Large variation of resistance levels was found, with good performance in several accessions from V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, the ancestor of cultivated grapevine. To get insight into the mechanisms of this apparent resistance, expression of defence genes was studied in V. vinifera cv. Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and different V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris genotypes, in both green and necrotic areas of inoculated woods. Resistance to Botryosphaeriaceae in V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris correlated with earlier and higher induction of some defence genes, both in green and necrotic wood. Moreover, leaves of several V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris accessions were also less susceptible to necrosis induced by treatment with a culture filtrate of Botryosphaeriaceae, compared to commercial cultivars of V. vinifera. The results show that V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris provides interesting genetic resources for breeding new varieties with enhanced resistance to botryosphaeria dieback.