Home > History of Wine > “…they want Fire, their Juices are not spirituous enough…” August 02, 1773

“…they want Fire, their Juices are not spirituous enough…” August 02, 1773


Only a few days later Andrew Estave publishes a response to Colonel Bolling, Jr’s request for vigor in his continuing campaign in support of foreign vines.  With this response Andrew Estave hopes to “remove a Part of the prejudice entertained, without any good Reason, against our native Grapes.”

From Virginia Gazette, Purdie and Dixon, August 02, 1773, Page 3

SIR,

THE Essay on Vines, which appeared in a former Gazette with the Signature of R. BOLLLING, is entitled to the Approbation of the Publick.  It had its Source, without Doubt, in that holy Zeal which warms the Breast of every true Patriot in Matters that concern the Happiness of his Country; but this Zeal is sometimes destructive of its own Purpose;  and may have fatal Consequences when not accompanied with a thorough Knowledge of the Affair in Agitation.

 I shall be permitted, I hope, without incurring the Charge of Fondess for Dispute, or Inclination to give Offence, briefly to examine a favourite Doctrine of Mr. Bolling’s.  He seems to have condemned all the native Grapes of this Country, to the Fate of never producing any other than a mean Wine, “for (says he) they want Fire, their Juices are not spirituous enough to furnish the Wine obtained from them with a sufficient Body.”  This is certainly true with Respect to the Grapes which grow wild in the Woods, or wherever Chance has scattered their Seeds.  But, has Experience ascertained the Degree of Improvement of which these Grapes are capable?  Has any one transplanted the Vines, enclosed, cultivated, and dressed them, after the Manner practiced in the most celebrated Wine Countries?  If all this has been done, and yet their Product has appeared not superior to that of the wild unmanaged Vine, I yield, and acknowledge myself deceived in my Attempt; but no one, I imagine, has a Right to condemn it until the Experiment has been fairly made.

 To develop a little my Notion by Example, I shall suppose that a Vine Stock of an Inch Diameter, growing wild, may produce ten or twelve Branches, and about three Hundred Bunches of Grapes.  A Stock of the same Sort and Size, being cultivated, and properly managed, will have only one or two small Branches left.  With two Eyes each, which may produce at the next Shoot three or four Branches, and eight or ten Bunches of Fruit.  Now the same Quantity of Spirit a Substance which in the first Instance is diffused through about three Hundred Bunches seems in the second to be concentred in eight or ten, from which one may form an Idea of the Difference that will be found in the Wine obtained from these different Stocks.  The native Vines which I planted about two Years since have from four to ten Bunches each; and their Grapes are as big again as the wild, although they do not ripen until the End of September, or the Beginning of October.  What I have said, if it meets with the Credit at Merits, may serve to remove a Part of the prejudice entertained, without any good Reason, against our native Grapes.

 I agree, with all the experienced Cultivators of Vines, that the Grapes which ripen latest are the best; and more than one Half of the seventy Species, which we have in this Country, become ripe between the Middle of September and the 15th of October.

 Had Colonel Bolling ever been in Canada, he must have been convinced, as I was by my own Eyes, that the unfruitful Vines of that Country differ too much from those we have here to make their ill Fate an Argument against the Cultivation of our own Grapes.  Upon the Whole, we ought not to blame his Endeavours to introduce amongst us a better Sort of Plants than we at present enjoy; but I doubt exceedingly their

Success. I am the Publick’s
Obedient Servant,
A.      ESTAVE.

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