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Location And Soil

As the selection of a proper location is of vast importance, and one of
the main conditions of success, great care and judgment should be
exercised in the choice. Some varieties of grapes may be grown on
almost any soil, it is true; but even they will show a vast difference
in the quality of the fruit, even if the quantity were satisfactory; on
indifferent soil, and in an inferior location. Everybody should grow
grapes enough for his own use, who owns an acre of ground, but every
one cannot grow them and make the most delicious wine.

The best locations are generally on the hillsides, along our larger
rivers, water-courses, and lakes, sloping to the East, South, and
Southwest, as they are generally more exempt from late spring frosts
and early frosts in fall. The location should be sheltered from the
cold winds from the north and northwest, but fully exposed to the
prevailing winds in summer from the south and southwest. If a hill is
chosen at any distance from a large body of water, it should be high
and airy, with as gentle a slope as can be obtained. The locations
along creeks and smaller water-courses should be particularly avoided,
as they are subject to late spring frosts, and are generally damp and

The soil should be a dry, calcareous loam, sufficiently deep, say three
feet; if possible, draining itself readily. Should this not be the case
naturally, it should be done with tiles.

I was much struck by the force of a remark made by medical friend last
summer, when, in consequence of the continual rains, the ague was very
prevalent. It was this: wherever you will find the ague an habitual
guest with the inhabitants you need not look for healthy grapevines.
Wherever we find stagnant water let us avoid the neighboring hillsides,
for they would not be congenial to our grape-vines. But on the bluffs
overhanging the banks of our large streams, especially on the northern
and western sides, where the vines are sheltered from the north and
west winds, and fully exposed to the warm southern winds of our summer
days, and where the fogs arising from the water yet give sufficient
humidity to the atmosphere, even in the hottest summer days, to refresh
the leaf during the night and morning hours; where the soil on the
southern and eastern slopes is a mixture of decomposed stone and
leaf-mould, and feels like velvet to the feet--there is the paradise
for the grape; and the soil is already better prepared for it than the
hand of man can ever do. Such locations should be cheap to the
grape-grower at _any_ price. We find them very frequently along the
northern banks of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and they will no
doubt become the favored grape regions of the country. The grape grows
there with a luxuriance and health which is almost incredible to those
living in less favored locations.

But the question may be asked here, what shall be done by those who do
not live in these favored regions, and yet would like to grow grapes? I
answer, let them choose the best location they have, the most free and
airy, and let them choose only those sturdy varieties that withstand
everything. They cannot grow the most delicate varieties--the
Herbemont, the Delaware, the Clara, are not for them; but they can grow
the Concord, Hartford Prolific, and Norton's Virginia, and they at
least are "very good," although they may not be the "best." There is no
excuse for any one in this country why he should not grow his own
grapes, for the use of his family at least, if he has any ground to
grow them on.

Next: Preparing The Soil

Previous: By Grafting

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