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.
The following circular- has been sent to us, with a request that we would give a synopsis of it. The subject is a very important one, and we hope will meet with the attention it deserves, especially from those directly interested in it We have no doubt the Convention will be instrumental of much good:
At a late meeting of the "Aiken Horticultural and Vine-Growing Association," it waa resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to open a correspondence with the various Vine-Growing Associations in the United States, and to ascertain the practicability of holding a Vine-Growing Convention in Aiken some time next summer; and if found practicable and expedient, that the committee take such measures to secure this object as they may think proper, and that they report the result of their proceedings to this Society at its meeting in May next.
The following gentlemen were appointed the committee: Messrs. A. De Caradeuc, Chairman; McDonald, Ravenel, Redmond, and Wood.
It is perhaps proper to state the object of the Association in proposing such a Convention, and to point out a few of the advantages to be derived from it. In the first place, it is necessary to come to some understanding about the names of the grapes now under cultivation, as it is evident that great confusion exists in that respect, most of the vines being known in different places by different names: the Black July, for instance, having five synonyms. Thus it often happens that a vine grower reads or hears great praises of a grape whose name is unknown to him, and a description of which tallies with none that he has; he procures it at great expense, cultivates it with care for two or three years, and ultimately discovers it is identical with some other he has had a long time. This is discouraging, and has deterred many from procuring new and valuable varieties, which it would have been advantageous to have cultivated more or less extensively. This difficulty can only be obviated by a Convention such as is proposed, the best written description never being so lucid as to convey an exact idea of a fruit.
The meeting will take place at a season when the fruit at the South is ripe; all who attend are invited and requested to bring samples of their grapes, ripe if possible, and green if otherwise, with a leaf and a piece of the wood, and names and synonyms attached. Those who can not attend are requested to forward samples as above. Thus if we are assisted by the good will of a majority of vine-growers, most of the varieties in the States will be represented; their qualities, names, synonyms, sizes, degrees of maturity, etc., will be compared, and a vast amount of invaluable information derived. Names will be agreed upon, accepted, or rejected, with good authority. Persons will also be requested to bring or Bend samples of the wild grapes from their neighborhood in the same manner, that the different species might be finally determined upon, and each grape properly classed under its own head or type - an object of great importance to the botany of the country, and perhaps finally to the making of wine from them. We are daily getting additions to our list of natives, and unless a correct nomenclature and classification be at once made, we will be thrown into inextricable confusion, expensive and troublesome to the growers.
Another object of the Convention is. to determine upon some manner of naming the different wines. The present way of calling them by the name of the grape is in direct contravention to the established rules of wine-growing countries. It has always been customary to classify wines by the name of a State, province, or district, with the different brands attached to them, according to the name of the particular locality. Thus the general name, "wines of the Rhine," comprises many particular brands, such as Hockheimer, Johannes* berg, etc., etc. Bordeaux wines include Chateaux Margaux, St. Julien, La Rose, etc. The reason for this is very obvious: the same grape will make totally different wines in different places. And, again, in most wine countries (and we will no doubt adopt the same course) the grapes are mixed. A wine made from a mixture of Catawba, Isabella, and Warren could not be called by either of those names.
At present we have a hundred different Catawba wines, no two of them alike; hence the propriety of rejecting the name of the fruit in favor of the time-honored custom of naming after the state, district, or river, with brands of private names or localities. Purchasers will then know at once what they are buying, and will not be prejudiced against Catawba or Warren wine, because they have tasted worthless Catawba or Warren wine.
Independently of the foregoing, the amount of information exchanged by persons meeting in such a Convention as we propose, would truly be worth " millions to the nation," and would tend more to develop that rich culture than all that could be written.
We call, then, upon all who cultivate the grape, whether for the table or for wine, or who take an interest in the success of its culture, to assist the committee in securing their object - a convention of delegates from all the Vine-Growing Associations in the United States, and of private and separate vine-growers. Let all who can come determine at once to meet at Aiken, S. C, on the third Tuesday in August next (21 st), there to assist in the good work - to compare their fruit and exchange their views.
Aiken has been selected as being easy of access from all quarters - North, South, East, and West - being at all times unexceptionable as to health, and a delightful summer resort for the neighboring cities, and well provided with ample accommodations.
Secretaries of the different associations connected with the vine-culture, would confer a favor by forwarding to this office, or to either of the gentlemen of the committee, the names and localities of their Societies, and all other information they may think proper.
A. de Caradecc, Chairman, Woodward, S. C. Dr. J. C W. McDonNald, " "
H. W. Ravenel, Aiken, S. C. E. J. C. Wood, " February, 1860. D. Redmond, Augusta, Ga.