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.
Of the vast number of varieties of the foreign Grapes now in cultivation in Europe and the United States, all arc referred to the single species, Vitis vim/era of Linnoeus, a native of the southern parts of Asia.
It has been under cultivation more than a thousand years, and was known under many varieties by the ancients.
Upwards of thirty years ago, when Chaptal was Minister of the Interior, there were fourteen hundred varieties enumerated in the Luxembourg catalogue, obtained from France alone. The Geneva catalogue numbered six hundred. Doubtless they have been much increased since; and as in the propagation of varieties of other fruits by seedlings., there is no limit to the number that may be brought into existence.
DeCandolle, in his "Prodromus," enumerates and gives descriptions of eleven other species of vine from the Old World, mostly natives of the southeastern part of Asia, but none of these have been cultivated extensively. The Grape of Europe is one species, but of numberless varieties.
Most of the early attempts at Grape culture in this country were with the foreign Grapes, but all, without exception, have been failures. The foreign Grapes (varieties of Vitis vinifera) seem, from their constitution, unfitted to our soil and climate. (I here allude to open air culture - under glass they appear to thrive very well.) How they will succeed when grafted upon the hardy native vine, remains to be proved. Partial experiments made in Florida and in this vicinity, are promising of success.
If the cause of failure is the greater humidity of our climate, grafting on the wild vine will scarcely prove a corrective, as the leaf and fruit are still exposed to the atmospheric influence. If the cause proceeds from unconge-niality of soil, then grafting upon the wild stock will most probably be successful. As this mode of increasing a vineyard for wine-making must necessarily be more tedious and expensive than by cuttings, it is our policy, as well as true philosophy, to endeavor, by the raising of seedlings, to obtain varieties best suited to our soil and climate.
Every encouragement should be given for the accomplishment of this end, and our Association has consulted the true interest of all vine-growers in offering handsome premiums towards that object. - Farmer and Planter.