This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
To return to the present limits of the vine, there are extensive vineyards in Bohemia (notwithstanding the elevation of that country), in Moravia, and more still in Hungary. The chain of mountains called successively Riesengebirge and Carpathians define its limits in that part of Europe, and it does not extend beyond them, except eastwards under the 48th degree. Thence it passes to the province of Bukovina, where there are vineyards in favorable localities, but there are none in Galicia. At Kiew grapes ripen badly and in gardens only, no wine being made. Descending the Dniester, the first vines are met with at Mohilow under the 48th degree, on the Dneiper under the 49th degree, on the Bug under the 47th degree. On the banks of the Don the culture of the vine is extensive from Axais to Tcherkask. On the Volga it is cultivated at Sarepta, lat. 48 1/3°, and probably as far north as 50J°.
In Southern Russia it is customary to bury the Tines daring winter to protect them against the great cold, and the frosts of September sometimes destroy the crop.
In Central Asia vines are grown here and there in low populous valleys. Humboldt mentions their being found in Hamil (lat, 43°), and at Lhassa in 29° 41'. The height and extent of the mountain chains in the centre of that continent are an evident obstacle to this culture. Bunge informs me that vines are grown in North China, in the environs of Pekin, and in great abundance, even as far north as Gouan-gou, beyond which he saw no vineyards; but the plants were everywhere covered with manure during the winter, the cold often descending to 5° Fahr.
In North America, at least in the United States, the Vitis vinifera has wholly failed. It was first attempted by Swiss on the banks of the Ohio, lat. 39°, but the wine was sour, did not keep, and did not pay its expenses, and the vineyards have since given place to corn-fields. Fine but limited crops of grapes are said to have been obtained near Cincinnati, but other attempts have failed; of these the most remarkable is that of Lakanal, who resorted to various expedients in several of the States, changing the localities, plants, etc. Again, Mr. Longworth, of Ohio, pursued his attempts for thirty years with remarkable zeal but no success, and it has been found necessary to use the Catawba Grape, an original wild grape of America, of which 1500 acres are cultivated in Ohio, 300 to 400 in Cincinnati, and about 1000 in Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio. These vineyards are increasing and profitable.
In New Mexico and California the climate is more favorable, and the European vine is cultivated, but it has not been introduced into the more recent settlements, and it is impossible to say what its future, limits may be in Oregon.
In the southern hemisphere the vine thrives in Chili, and excellent wine is made to the east of the chain of the Andes at Mendoza, Saint Juan, and La Rioja, but its southern limit is not known. Schouw mentions the vine at Conception under the 37th degree.
Wine of the best quality is sometimes produced at the Cape of Good Hope; that of New South Wales resembles the wines of the banks of the Loire; and in general the dry climates and light soils of Australia are well adapted to vine cultivation. That of Tasmania is too humid.
•[In the above resume the extensive vine cultivation of the Northwestern Himalayas, Afghanistan, and Persia is not mentioned. The reported cultivation at Lhassa is open to doubt; Huc and Gabet, the only Europeans who have visited Lhassa, make no allusion to it; and the testimony of recent Himalayan travellers who have questioned the Thibetans upon the subject seems to prove that the climate is much too rigorous and arid].
[Note. - The foregoing excellent article, from the pen of one of the best botanists in Europe, contains much to interest us here in America. That the geographical limits for the cultivation of the "Vitis vinifera" in Europe have been gradually receding from the northwest to the southeast appears to be clearly proven; and that the attempts with the same vine, in all its varieties, in the United States, have thus far been a failure, cannot be denied. With the exception of some parts of California, where it is said to succeed, the Vitis vinifera is abandoned for vineyard culture in the United States. About sixty years ago experiments in vineyard culture, with foreign vines, were made in the vicinity of New York, Philadelphia, Lexington, Ky., and some parts of Virginia; with some promise of success at first; they all eventually failed. Some years later, the good sense of a few persevering cultivators induced them to try our native vines, with a better reward for their efforts. Wine was made, but not of a quality to please the American palate, and it was for a time abandoned.
This may be said especially of the Swiss settlement at Vevay, Ind., established in 1805, where the Schuylkill Grape was principally cultivated, under the name of "Cape" (a misnomer). The vineyards planted on rich bottom lands, instead of the hilltops and sides, did not succeed, and were given up for corn-fields. At length a native grape was found, of great promise - the Catawba, from North Carolina. It was first introduced into notice by Major Adlum, of Georgetown, D. C, in 1820, and by N. Long-worth, of Cincinnati, in 1823. The latter gentleman, by his untiring efforts in the cause, is justly entitled to be called the "father of successful vine culture in the West." This noble grape is now our principal reliance for wine in the West and Southwest, and is rapidly spreading over the Southern States also. The quality of the wine made from it is too well known to require further remarks, except to say that it is very popular, and readily commands a remunerative price to the producer. That wine-growing in the United States will eventually succeed, as a permanent and paying crop, no one familiar with its present progress can doubt. What are the geographical limits, and where the most favored region within our vast territories, has yet to be tested by experience.
We are comparatively but new beginners in this enterprise, and mere learners; but if we do not improve as we progress, it will not be in accordance with the usual sagacity and energy of the American character.
In the varied climate of our widely extended country, some native grapes will be found suited for wine in almost every latitude south of 43°. Thus far, the Isabella for the North, the Catawba for the West, and the Scuppernong for the South, appear to be the favorites. Many other native and hybrid varieties are now being tested, and amongst them superior wine grapes to those now cultivated will doubtless be discovered. We live in an age of progress, and why should wine-growing form an exception?
The grape is now cultivated for wine-making in 20 of the 31 States of the Union, and the following estimate is probably a fair approximation to the number of acres in vineyards in some of the States. Ohio, 3000, about 2000 of which is around Cincinnati; Indiana, 1000; Kentucky, 500; Illinois, 600; Missouri, 700; Tennessee, 200; Georgia, 100; South Carolina, 200; North Carolina, 200.
The mountainous regions of Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia are thought to be the best parts of the United States for grape culture. Thus far, the vineyards have produced better Average crops in Ohio than Missouri. The past year, however, is an exception; in Ohio we shall scarcely average over 100 gallons to the acre, whilst in Missouri some of the vineyards have yielded 1000. One hundred gallons per acre will more than pay the expenses of cultivation. With all the casualties to which the crop is subject, it is found to be as reliable as the apple, our hardiest fruit; and, were it not remunerative, it would long since have been abandoned. R. Buchanan].