Vitis vinifera (Grape tree), also known as grapevine, is native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe and some parts of Asia. The plant has grown in these parts of the world for over 65 million years. It is classified in the order Vitales and family Vitaceae, the only one found in this order.
Over time, the tree has been spread to many other parts of the world. It can grow in virtually any part other than the Antarctic region. It earns many countries huge economic benefits. The main products for which it is grown include wine, raisin and table berries. Wine production has taken place for as many as 7000 years in some places.
The vines grow to a height of about 35 meters. They give rise to berries whose size vary depending on whether the plants are cultivated or are wild. Wild berries are smaller and measure just about 6mm in diameter compared to the cultivated ones that average 3 cm. A ripe berry may be green, darkish purple or red. Humid conditions and a good water supply are necessary for good yields.
In ancient times, grape trees were used both as medicine and for nutrition. Their sap was believed to cure several eye and skin conditions. The leaves were used to alleviate symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions. Originally, it is the wild varieties that were used but with the onset of the agrarian revolution farmers took up cultivation of the trees. Wine making is a practice that took place throughout ancient Greece. In Egypt wine was mainly drank by Pharaohs, their guests and the priests.
Farmers may choose to either grow the plants from their own roots or they may graft them on old plants. The former option is often preferred as the latter has no known benefits. In fact on some occasions, old roots may have been destroyed by low winter temperatures. Cuttings are collected after pruning and induced to start growing. This is done in the seasons of late winter and early spring.
Cuttings of about 0.8 cm are cut into smaller bud sections (3-6). They are put in bunches and covered with damp, well-drained soil. They stay there till summer when they can be removed and planted. One should ensure that they are well callused and have formed roots. Rooted vines that can be planted immediately are available commercially.
A distance of about 7 feet is required between one cutting and the next. Buds need to be protected from direct sunlight in the early period. Fertilizer is not a requirement during plant. Later, it is applied depending on the nutritional requirements. Pruning is avoided in the growing season as fruit is produced and done in the next dormant season.
The Vitis vinifera (Grape tree) is a plant that grows perennially. Harvest time is variable and depends on what the fruit is to be used for. The fruits that are harvested earliest are those that are to be used for jelly. This helps avoid sugar crystals that are formed as the fruit matures. These crystals usually cloud the product. Table berries are best harvested when their color and taste are at their peak. If the berries are intended for making juice, then it is important that they fully mature.??