The European Grape

The European grape, Vitis vinifera (Fig. 1), is the grape of ancient

and modern agriculture. It is the vine which Noah planted after the

Deluge; the vine of Israel and of the Promised Land; the vine of the

parables in the New Testament. It is the grape and the vine of the

myths, fables, poetry and prose of all peoples. It is the grape from

which the wines of the world are made. From it come the raisins of the

world. It is the chief agricultural crop of southern Europe and

northern Africa and of vast regions in other parts of the world,

having followed civilized man from place to place in all temperate

climates. The European grape has so impressed itself on the human mind

that when one thinks or speaks of the grape, or of the vine, it is

this Old World species, the vine of antiquity, that presents itself.

The written records of the cultivation of the European grape go back

five or six thousand years. The ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks

and Romans grew the vine and made wine from its fruit. Grape seeds

have been found in the remains of European peoples of prehistoric

times, showing that primitive men enlivened their scanty fare with

wild grapes. Cultivation of the grape in the Old World probably began

in the region about the Caspian Sea where the vine has always run

wild. We have proof of the great antiquity of the grape in Egypt, for

its seeds are found entombed with the oldest mummies. Probably the

Phoenicians, the earliest navigators on the Mediterranean, carried the

grape from Egypt and Syria to Greece, Rome and other countries

bordering on this sea. The domestication of the grape was far advanced

in Christ's time, for Pliny, writing then, describes ninety-one kinds

of grapes and fifty kinds of wine.

It can never be known exactly when the European grape came under

cultivation. There is no word as to what were the methods and

processes of domestication, and whose the minds and hands that

remodeled the wild grape of Europe into the grape of the vineyards.

The Old World grape was domesticated long before the faint traditions

which have been transmitted to our day could possibly have arisen. For

knowledge of how wild species of this fruit have been and may be

brought under cultivation, we must turn to New World records.

The Domestication Of The Grape The Genus Vitis facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail