Water scarcity is a key limiting factor in agriculture. Grapevines react at the physiological, biochemical and genetic level to tolerate water constraints. Even though grapevines are considered relatively tolerant to water deficits, grapevine growth and yield can be seriously reduced under water deficit. Drought‐tolerant rootstocks are expected to enable the scion to grow and yield when water supply is limited. Genetic machinery allows rootstocks to control water extraction capacity and scion transpiration. Numerous works have demonstrated the positive role of drought‐tolerant rootstocks on the control of cultivar's leaf stomatal conductance and therefore on canopy transpiration. The mechanisms, in terms of signalisation and gene functioning, need further study. Furthermore, there is no standardised methodology to rank rootstocks in terms of their tolerance to drought. A potential effect of rootstocks on stomatal development is also discussed. This review will critically discuss the current knowledge of the mechanisms of drought tolerance afforded by rootstocks, taking into account the scion/rootstock interaction, and will present some of the challenges for future investigations.