“Red, Red Wine, Stay close to me……” Can you just hear UB 40 crooning that old favorite tune with its reggae beat? How many other songs have been written about the fermentation of this revered fruit?
The history of grapes is as old as the history of mankind. There is evidence that as far back as Ancient Egypt, man has been transforming grapes into wine, one of the world’s finest symbols of romance.
But even before it is transformed into that delicate, fermented beverage, grapes are linked symbolically with love, fertility and virility. The ancient Romans, acknowledged as the first civilization to cultivate grape vines, made both grapes and wine emblems of Bacchus, god of ecstasy (not to mention fertility). Even pre-dating the Romans, in ancient Greece it was a tradition to give clusters to newlyweds in the belief that the grape’s seeds would bless the couple with many children.
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Grapes are a natural for the seductor’s arsenal. The sweet jewels are the perfect finger food - and one packed with age-defying anti-oxidants. Grape seed oil also has excellent free radical-fighting effects, used as either cooking or massage oil. There is also evidence that these little fruits of seduction could prove powerful in the fight against cancer.
Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they';ve grown wild since prehistoric times, evidence suggests they were cultivated in Asia as early as 5000 BC. The grape also played a role in numerous biblical stories, being referred to as the "fruit of the vine." Grapes were pictured in hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian burial tombs.
According to the "Food and Agriculture Organization" 75,866 square kilometers of the world are dedicated to the cultivation of grapes. Aproximately 71% of world grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, and 2% as dried fruit. A portion of grape production goes to producing grape juice to be used as a sweetener for fruits canned "with no added sugar" and "100% natural". The area dedicated to vineyards is increasing by about 2% per year. Here in New Zealand we certainly see (and welcome) this trend. There has been phenomenal growth in the industry from about 7000 hectares of cultivated vineyards in 1997 to more than 23,000 hectares in 2007. The industry standards ensure sustainability and the production of world class fruit of the vine and its resultant wine.
The ideal place for the home gardener to grow a grape vine is over a pergola which covers a deck or patio area. Because the vine is deciduous, it will lose all its leaves in the winter months, allowing the sun to shine through, whilst it will provide dense shade and fruit for the plucking in the summer months. The rapid growth of the vine requires that it is pruned hard each year, preferably after the winter frosts are over. Visit Wairere and choose from one of our excellent selection.
A popular NZ bred table grape that ripens towards the end of autumn. Good weather and disease resistance. Large-medium black fruit that look and taste great with an aromatic spicy flavour. Grapes will grow in most soils but do better with good drainage and of course they love the sun. Deciduous.