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.
Specimens of a new and promising white grape have been forwarded to us, from S. J. Parker, of Ithaca, N. Y., which seem to possess very desirable characteristics. The berry is pare white - with little or no bloom, medium size; bunch small, but compact, berries hang well to the stem; long stem, apparently productive; skin quite tough, berry very tenacious in holding to the bunch, sweet as the Delaware, no musky quality; fully equal to Rebecca in general characteristics of flavor, but larger bunches. It might be called the White Delaware, for it seems to possess many of its characteristics, although the bunch is uniform, not shouldered. It is a seedling originating with Dr. Parker, and is as yet unnamed - though sometimes called The Ithaca, or Tucker's Parker Grape,
The Doctor in his letter to us, communicates the following information of its success in Central New York: " It smells of the rose, rather than the fox, is sweet for so poor a year - large as common Isabella (Ed., does not seem so to us), like the Delaware in bunch, early and hardy; vine is six years old."
In another letter he says: "I made the cross of the seed, and when, seven years ago, I was sick, and did not expect to do much again, I gave the seed of 125 crosses to Mr. Tucker to raise; I also gave away 600 other seeds to other persons. Mr. Tucker raised about 50, and at last these dwindled down to six or eight. Two are early white, and an early black I sent West. But this, the best, has now grown Six years, and the fruit has grown larger in berry and more beautiful in bunch, every year it has borne. It is now in berry, very nearly as large as Isabella; is a compact and Delaware shaped bunch; yellowish green or golden color, clear in the skin and pulp, so as to show the seed when held in the light; it has no foxy smell, but a rose-like perfume. It is not as sweet this year, when no grape is sweet here in the Cayuga Valley, but is the sweetest and best grape out of scores of varieties. It usually ripens the 20th August to September 1st; and this is as early as any grape. The vine this year had about a bushel on it by actual measurement, as we picked them; and this is only the sixth year of its age. Leaves are large, rough on the top, aud resists climate. Vine never has been protected in the least; has been pruned and left all winter on the trellis.
Stands on hard clay, and shaded with tomato vines, on poles, so that it has not a full sun exposure; yet gives this splendid fruit.
I am not ready to commend - grapes very highly; yet this I cannot help regarding as the best White American Grape, yet out, for it has perfect hardiness, health; is early, and choice in flavor and sweetness"
What we want now, is a good white grape. It is a curious feature of grape growing that none of our scientific growers have ever succeeded in supplying us with this article. It is true that there are several varieties of white grapes, but it is a rare sight to see a case of them in our market, and persons desiring a white article procure either the hot - house or foreign article. Any person who can succeed in raising a white grape that will prove to be as prolific as any of the above named varieties, can readily secure high prices for them.
Malagas - In former years, the foreign white grape did not interfere with our native fruit, for it arrived in limited quantities, and sold at high prices, say from ten to fifteen dollars per barrel; but the importing of them proved to be profitable, and a greater number entered the business. Some of our native fruit dealers entered into a competition with the foreigners, and the result was an increase of quantity, and a cheapening of them to such an extent that it affects the sale of the Catawba very seriously.
For the benefit of those not acquainted with this foreign article, I will give a brief sketch of the fruit, the package made use of to import them in, and the mode of selling them.
The largest packages used are known as barrels. These contain about one-half the quantity of our barrels. The so-called standard weight for the grapes packed in a barrel is fifty pounds, but they seldom turn out more than forty pounds, even when they are all sound. The next package for size is known as kegs; they contain one-half the quantity of a barrel, and generally yield from fifteen to twenty pounds each. The next in order is known as quarters, containing one-fourth of a barrel. There is also another package, a box, said to contain the same quantity of the keg; but as a general thing they do not sell for as much money as the keg.
This fruit is all white, and known by the name of Almerica, or Malaga Grape, all of which are packed in cork ground fine. Much of this fruit arrives in poor condition, and is sold very cheap at auction. The mode of selling it is thus: A platform, perhaps three feet high, is raised on trusses in the room. A piece of canvas, four feet square, is laid on it, on which three packages of each line or mark of barrels, kegs or boxes are in turn emptied on it. As soon as one barrel is emptied, it is returned to the package until the three are emptied; then the bidding begins, when, if prices are satisfactory to the owners, the entire line is sold by these three samples. Then three of another mark are exposed until all arc sold. In buying, you must take at least ten barrels, and twenty-five of any of the other size packages. While the fruit is being exposed, the buyers crowd around this table, and closely examine and taste the fruit. When a choice article is offered, the bidding runs high; if very inferior, it sells low.
To give some idea of the prices they sell for,.I will state that, as near as I can remember, during the present season a choice article of barrels sold from $7 to $10, a fair article from $5 to $6, and a very poor brand as low as $2; kegs, choice, from $4 to $6, fair, $2.50 $3, and poor as low as $1. A choice brand of boxes has rarely sold above $2.50, while I have seen a really good article sell for $1.25, and for poor, 25 cents. These arc then placed in the market and sold to the retailers, generally at a good profit, for but few of the retailers want to buy such large quantities as they are compelled to at the auction room. In many cases they have been retailed on the street at 20 cents per pound, while the better classes sold at 40 cents, and some as high as 50 cents per pound. Some of these grapes are very beautiful and sweet, while others look as well, but are very sour; yet, being white, they sell readily, if they are plump and fresh-looking.