- Grapevine cultivars possess large variability in their response to water availability, and are therefore considered as a good model to study plant hydraulic adjustments. The current research compared the petiole anatomy of two grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) cultivars, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, in respect to hydraulic properties. Hydraulic differences between the cultivar petioles were tested over 3 years (2011–2013). Anatomical differences, hydraulic conductivity and embolism were tested under terminal drought conditions. Additionally, xylem differentiation under well watered (WW) and water deficit (WD) conditions was compared. Shiraz was shown to possess larger xylem vessels that resulted in a significantly higher theoretical specific hydraulic conductivity (Kts), leaf hydraulic conductivity (Kleaf) and maximal petiole hydraulic conductivity (Kpetiole). Under WD, smaller vessels were developed, more noticeably in Shiraz. Results confirmed a link between petiole hydraulic architecture and hydraulic behaviour, providing a simple mechanistic explanation for the higher transpiration rates commonly measured in Shiraz. Smaller xylem vessels in Cabernet Sauvignon could imply on its adaptation to WD, and explains its better performances under such conditions.