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.
A total failure, except where they are trained against the east and south side of my house (brick wall); about one-half rotted; this balance were as fine as could be, and would have eclipsed by far any on exhibition at the State Fair at Philadelphia. [Still, it is inferior to the newer Rebecca, Delaware, and Diana. - Ed].
The Catawba is our principal late grape. They are grown largely in the vicinity of Keuka and Seneca Lakes in New York State, and the best grown in the State. Owing to their peculiar location, soil and climate, they will ripen thoroughly, hang on the vines later, and retain their sweetness and plumpness up to the holidays without difficulty. In fact they are the standard fruit in our market, and can be bought as readily, and cheaper than apples for our New Year's tables.
Fig. 91. - Leaf of the Catawba.
To me one of the greatest pleasures of life has been the culture of trees and growth of fruit, and the success of others in so doing has always been extremely gratifying. Our seasons, at Rochester, N. Y., are not always favorable to the ripening of grapes, especially the Catawba ; but the warm and dry weather of the summer and early fall months of 1853, has perfected all the varieties grown with us better than I have ever known before.
One of our townsmen, Mr. Jacob Graves - one of the pioneer citizens - has produced the Catawba this season of the very best quality, full as well ripened, and sweet, and luscious, as the same kind which I have seen grown at Cincinnati; and I have been to see how he trains and keeps his vines.
On a southern exposure, on a trellis entirely independent from his house, he has three vines, some four yean planted, which have made good growth and borne plentifully. They have been annually pruned in February, and in the fall had finely pounded horn piths put under cover of the earth around the roots, which has proved an excellent fertilizer. With a free circulation of air, and plenty of sun, the grapes have ripened beyond any thing I have ever seen, fully as sweet as any I ever tasted grown under glass.
Judicious pruning, and free circulation of air, all grapes require; and we only need to bestow that care to have the luxury of sweet, well flavored grapes, from October till April Mr. Longworth, of Cincinnati, in acknowledging the receipt from me of a barrel of Clinton grapes, speaks very highly of them, as well ripened, and likely to prove a fine wine grape. They are most certainly a choice table variety, and worthy of cultivation. J. H. Watts.
Mr. Watts very kindly gave us an opportunity of tasting the Catawbas to which he refers, and we cordially agree with him as to their excellence. We may state in this connection that on our own premises the Catawba has ripened completely, and attained its highest perfection on a south wall of a house, while on an open wire trellis in the garden it had just begun to color when the frost came, and, of course, it did not become eatable.
Much body and strength; light amber color. Alcohol 8 per cent.