Vitis vinifera


''Vitis vinifera'', the common grape vine, is a species of , native to the , , and southwestern , from and north to southern and east to northern . There are currently between of ''Vitis vinifera'' grapes though only a few are of commercial significance for wine and table grape production. The wild grape is often classified as ''V. vinifera'' subsp. ''sylvestris'' (in some classifications considered ''Vitis sylvestris''), with ''V. vinifera'' subsp. ''vinifera'' restricted to cultivated forms. Domesticated vines have flowers, but subsp. ''sylvestris'' is ( and flowers on separate plants) and pollination is required for fruit to develop. The grape berries can be eaten fresh, or dried to produce , and . are used in the cuisine of many cultures. The fresh grapes can also be processed into that is fermented to make and . Cultivars of ''Vitis vinifera'' form the basis of the majority of wines produced around the world. All of the familiar wine varieties belong to ''Vitis vinifera'', which is cultivated on every continent except for , and in all the major wine regions of the world.



Wild grapes were by neolithic foragers and early farmers. For thousands of years, the has been harvested for both medicinal and nutritional value; its history is intimately entwined with the . Changes in pip (seed) shape (narrower in domesticated forms) and distribution point to domestication occurring about 3500–3000 BC, in southwest Asia, (), or the Western Black Sea shore region ( and ). The earliest evidence of domesticated grapes has been found at , near the village of Imiri, , in southeastern ; carbon-dating points to the date of about 6000 BC. Grape pips dating back to the 5th–4th millennium BC were also found in Shulaveri; others dating back to the 4th millennium BC were also found in Khizanaant Gora, all in the country of Georgia.


Cultivation of the domesticated grape spread to other parts of the in pre-historic or early historic times. The first written accounts of grapes and wine can be found in the ', an ancient ian text from the 3rd millennium BC. There are also numerous hieroglyphic references from ancient Egypt, according to which wine was reserved exclusively for priests, state functionaries and the pharaoh. in his gives detailed descriptions of grape harvests and wine making techniques, and there are also many references in . Greek colonists then introduced these practices in their colonies, especially in southern Italy (Magna Grecia), which was even known as Enotria due to its propitious climate. The improved wine making techniques and developed an export trade even beyond the Mediterranean basin. The ancient Romans further developed the techniques learnt from the Etruscans, as shown by numerous works of literature containing information that is still valid today: ' (around 160 BC) by , ' by , the ' by and ' by . During the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, the long crisis of the Roman Empire generated instability in the countryside which led to a reduction of viticulture in general, which was mainly sustained only close to towns and cities and along coastlines.

Medieval era

Between the 5th and 10th centuries, viticulture was sustained almost exclusively by the different religious orders in monasteries. The Benedictines and others extended the grape growing limit northwards and also planted new vineyards at higher altitudes than was customary before. Apart from 'ecclesiastical' viticulture, there also developed, especially in France, a 'noble' viticulture, practiced by the aristocracy as a symbol of prestige. Grape growing was a significant economic activity in the Middle east up to the 7th century, when the caused it to decline.

Early modern period

Between the Low Middle Ages and the Renaissance, viticulture began to flourish again. Demographic pressure, population concentration in towns and cities, and the increased spending power of artisans and merchants gave rise to increased investment in viticulture, which became economically feasible once more. Much was written during the Renaissance on grape growing and wine production, favouring a more scientific approach. This literature can be considered the origin of modern . Grapes followed European colonies around the world, coming to around the 17th century, and to , and . In North America it formed with native species from the genus ''Vitis''; some of these were intentional hybrids created to combat ', an pest which affected the European grapevine to a much greater extent than North American ones and in fact managed to devastate European wine production in a matter of years. Later, North American rootstocks became widely used to graft ''V. vinifera'' cultivars so as to withstand the presence of phylloxera.

Contemporary period

In the second half of the 20th century there was a shift in attitude in viticulture from traditional techniques to the scientific method based on fields such as microbiology, chemistry and ampelography. This change came about also due to changes in economic and cultural aspects and in the way of life and in the consumption habits of wide sectors of the population starting to demand quality products. In 2007, ''Vitis vinifera'' was the fourth angiosperm species whose genome was completely sequenced. These data contributed significantly to understanding the evolution of plants and also how the aromatic characteristics of wine are determined in part by the plant's genes. This work was a collaboration between Italian researchers (Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Biologia Molecolare delle Piante, Istituto di Genomica Applicata) and French researchers ( and ). Also in 2007, scientists from 's (CSIRO), working in the Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture, reported that their "research suggests that extremely rare and independent mutations in two genes 'VvMYBA1'' and ''VvMYBA2'' of red grapesproduced a single white grapevine that was the parent of almost all of the world's white grape varieties. If only one gene had been mutated, most grapes would still be red and we would not have the more than 3000 white grape cultivars available today."


It is a growing tall at a fast rate. Having a flaky , its are alternate, palmately lobed, , with 3 to 5 pointed lobes, coarsely prickly-toothed leaf margins and a heart-shaped foot, long and broad. They are glossy dark green on top, light green below, usually hairless. The vine attaches to supports by . The stems, called twigs, grow through their tip, the apex. A branch consists of several s separated by knots, which grow the leaves, flowers, tendrils and between-core and where to train future buds. During their hardening, the twigs become woody branches that can reach a great length. Its roots usually sink to a depth of 2 to 5 meters and sometimes up to 12-15 meters or even more. The species typically occurs in humid forests and streamsides.


Their flowers, small and greenish to white, are grouped in s and their fruits, of different shapes depending on the subspecies, are berries grouped in clusters. The is single-leaf with 5 short, deciduous teeth. The consists of five petals, fused at the top and base, and then falls off in its entirety. Opposite the petals there are five s interspersed with glands. The upper bears a very short style with a button-shaped . The wild vine is a plant, the male and female flowers arise on different plants, but the cultivated forms are hermaphroditic, allowing . The is a , known as a that is ovoid or globular, dark blue or greenish, usually 2-locular with 5 seeds; in the wild species it is diameter and ripens dark purple to blackish with a pale wax bloom; in cultivated plants it is usually much larger, up to long, and can be green, red, or purple (black).


''V. vinifera'' accounts for the majority of world wine production; all of the most familiar grape varieties used for wine production belong to ''V. vinifera''. In , ''Vitis vinifera'' is concentrated in the central and southern regions; in , in the western regions such as , the , the , and in ; in , along the northern coast and in ; in , in and also other areas like , , , , , , and ; in in , , , and ; and in in and .


Use of s is known to date back to times, following the discovery in 1996 of 7,000-year-old storage jars in present-day northern . Further evidence shows the ns and ians had vine plantations and winemaking skills. praised the healing powers of grapes both whole and in the form of wine. ''Vitis vinifera'' and in began during the in the 2nd century with the importation of the species from . However, wild vine "mountain grapes" like ' were being used for wine making before that time. In of India ''V. vinifera'' is used in prescriptions for , respiratory tract , subacute cases of enlarged liver and spleen, as well as in alcohol-based tonics (Aasavs). In the Mediterranean Basin, leaves and young stems are traditionally used to feed sheep and goats after grapevine pruning. Using the sap of grapevines, European folk healers sought to cure skin and eye diseases. Other historical uses include the being used to stop bleeding, pain and inflammation of . Unripe grapes were used for treating sore throats, and raisins were given as treatments for consumption (), and . Ripe grapes were used for the treatment of , , , , skin and eye infections as well as and s. Seedless grape varieties were developed to appeal to consumers, but researchers are now discovering that many of the healthful properties of grapes may actually come from the seeds themselves, thanks to their enriched content. In , Vitis vinifera (kalidraksha) is known for its antioxidants, which are essential for improving a persons appetite and metabolism. It is often mixed with , cinnamon, cardamom and other herbs along with spices to create "Blood in Draksha", which will uplift a persons mind and body. It is a proprietary recipe in Ayurveda created by Shri Pappy Vaidyar back in 1930. Grapevine leaves are filled with minced meat (such as lamb, pork or beef), rice and onions in the making of Balkan traditional . A popular cultivar in Australia, ', derived from Vitis vinifera x , is used in gardens for its impressive foliage that turn brilliant red, , purple and/or orange in autumn. Originally bred in France, it thrives in a range of climates from hot and dry, to cool moist and subtropical, with different soil types benefitting the plant.



''V. vinifera'' contains many phenolic compounds. s can be found in the skin of the berries, s in the pulp and condensed tannins of the s type in the seeds. s can be found in the skin and in wood.


''Trans''- is a produced against the growth of fungal pathogens such as ' and is another grapevine produced following by '. *


''Vitis vinifera'' red cultivars are rich in s that impart their colour to the berries (generally in the skin). The 5 most basic anthocyanins found in grape are: * * * * * Cultivars like may also contain : ; acetylated anthocyanins * * * * * ; coumaroylated anthocyanins * * * * * * ; caffeoylated anthocyanins * *

Other chemicals

Isoprenoid monoterpenes are present in grape, above all acyclic , , , , and monocyclic α-, mostly occurring as glycosides. Carotenoids accumulate in ripening grape berries. Oxidation of carotenoids produces volatile fragments, C13-s. These are strongly odoriferous compounds, such as β- (aroma of viola), (aroma of exotic fruits), β- (aroma of rose) and β- (aroma of flowers and fruits). , an alkaloid, has been identified in grape. In addition, seeds are rich in , which helps lowering levels of total and cholesterol in the blood.

See also

* * * * * * *


Further reading

* *Manzi Luigi, ''La viticoltura e l'enologia al tempo dei romani'', Er. Botta, Roma 1883 *Marescalchi Arturo, Dalmasso Giovanni, ''Storia della vite e del vino in Italia'', 3 voll., Unione Italiana Vini, Milano 1931-33-37 * {{Authority control Vines