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.
We continue the proceedings of the Conversational Meeting from our last. They are somewhat lengthy, but their interest will fully repay perusal. We find, on looking at our account last month, that the questions are not arranged precisely as they were asked, but the difference is of no great moment. The following is a continuation of Dr. Grant's lecture:
In our discussion of the first question, perhaps the fourth also, incidentally, by its intimate relation to the first, has been sufficiently considered to need no further examination. It is as follows: " Can the native grape be profitably grown for wine-making?"
But the question directs our attention to a field very extensive, and too interesting to suffer us to pass it by without a word of special notice. We shall see that the answer to this will be yea or nay, according to the management of the vineyard. As the native vine (Catawba, for instance) Is grown by one man, we shall find it not merely profitable, but largely remunerative. If we state his annual net profit at five hundred dollars per acre of Catawba vineyard for a succession of years, taking the seasons good and bad, (to him, by -the-way, they have never been very bad,) we shall only state what we know has in numerous instances actually taken place. Within sight of these productive vineyards are others upon land as good, and as favorably situated, but badly managed, whose profits have been measured by a minus quantity. In this the, vineyard does not differ from any other business which requires manly care. It may be said of the vine, however, with more exactness of truth than of any other subject of culture, that as is its management, so is its return to the husbandman.
The vine is not a being of accident, but, like humanity itself, a creature of circumstances; and if these are favorable, the produce is excellent and abundant. And it is in the vintner's power, as it is his province, with extremely rare exceptions, to make the circumstances favorable. The vine that is trained up in health to full development, and is still continued under good management, has very great power to withstand the trying changes of the seasons, and ability to bring at least a large portion of its crop to maturity in those the most unfavorable. Its care and management are not intricate and difficult, nor are the operations of the vineyard matters of speculation or doubtful propriety, or of uncertain result. They are such as patient, well-informed industry, that feels it a privilege and high honor to co-work with the Almighty Father, will find much pleasure in giving at the right time and season, but such as impatient indolence fails of bestowing at the right time and season, and so comes short of the reward.
In one of the most noted vine regions of this country, there is a committee of distinguished vineyardists appointed to visit the vineyards from time to time during the season, to note their management and condition, and at the end of the season to report the results of their observations. The chairman of that committee, to illustrate his own views of the importance of good management and care, said in my hearing, that if the particulars of the treatment of a vineyard were given to him, he could from the account alone give the result almost as well as by personal inspection: so intimately are management and success connected.
Now the management of the vine must not be regarded as difficult in any one of its operations, but, like the good man's life, it is a patient continuance in well-doing throughout; and under these conditions, which are well ascertained, and easily intelligible to any one who, unbiased by preconceived theories, is willing to observe, under the clear light of long-established facts, we may say, without fear of contradiction, that the vineyard affords a more remunerative pecuniary return than can by any other branch of culture be drawn from the bosom of our blessed mother earth.
There are other and even more important considerations rising up and clustering around this one of profit, which must form the base, but upon which we can not now dwell, that have in all ages constituted the calling of the vineyardist the most dignified and elevating of all industrial pursuits, and a good vineyard as the most desirable of possessions.
I have instanced Catawba vineyards, because I desired to give not evidence merely, but actual demonstration by history, of a long succession of years. Some most instructive cases of rise from poverty to wealth and high consideration by means of Catawba vineyards I could relate if time would permit The Catawba for wine-making is suited to only a limited range of climate; and although good in quality, it is far from being best; and those very persons who, by the thorough management of their Catawba vineyards, have furnished largely our means of demonstration, have also, by their careful observations and experiments during a series of years, demonstrated the surpassing value of our new varieties, which are perfectly suited to a very wide range of climate. The question must receive an emphatic affirmative answer.