Location And Soil

As the selection of a proper location is of vast importance, and one of

the main conditions of success, great care and judgment should be

exercised in the choice. Some varieties of grapes may be grown on

almost any soil, it is true; but even they will show a vast difference

in the quality of the fruit, even if the quantity were satisfactory; on

indifferent soil, and in an inferior location. Everybody should grow

enough for his own use, who owns an acre of ground, but every

one cannot grow them and make the most delicious wine.

The best locations are generally on the hillsides, along our larger

rivers, water-courses, and lakes, sloping to the East, South, and

Southwest, as they are generally more exempt from late spring frosts

and early frosts in fall. The location should be sheltered from the

cold winds from the north and northwest, but fully exposed to the

prevailing winds in summer from the south and southwest. If a hill is

chosen at any distance from a large body of water, it should be high

and airy, with as gentle a slope as can be obtained. The locations

along creeks and smaller water-courses should be particularly avoided,

as they are subject to late spring frosts, and are generally damp and


The soil should be a dry, calcareous loam, sufficiently deep, say three

feet; if possible, draining itself readily. Should this not be the case

naturally, it should be done with tiles.

I was much struck by the force of a remark made by medical friend last

summer, when, in consequence of the continual rains, the ague was very

prevalent. It was this: wherever you will find the ague an habitual

guest with the inhabitants you need not look for healthy grapevines.

Wherever we find stagnant water let us avoid the neighboring hillsides,

for they would not be congenial to our grape-vines. But on the bluffs

overhanging the banks of our large streams, especially on the northern

and western sides, where the vines are sheltered from the north and

west winds, and fully exposed to the warm southern winds of our summer

days, and where the fogs arising from the water yet give sufficient

humidity to the atmosphere, even in the hottest summer days, to refresh

the leaf during the night and morning hours; where the soil on the

southern and eastern slopes is a mixture of decomposed stone and

leaf-mould, and feels like velvet to the feet--there is the paradise

for the grape; and the soil is already better prepared for it than the

hand of man can ever do. Such locations should be cheap to the

grape-grower at _any_ price. We find them very frequently along the

northern banks of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and they will no

doubt become the favored grape regions of the country. The grape grows

there with a luxuriance and health which is almost incredible to those

living in less favored locations.

But the question may be asked here, what shall be done by those who do

not live in these favored regions, and yet would like to grow grapes? I

answer, let them choose the best location they have, the most free and

airy, and let them choose only those sturdy varieties that withstand

everything. They cannot grow the most delicate varieties--the

Herbemont, the Delaware, the Clara, are not for them; but they can grow

the Concord, Hartford Prolific, and Norton's Virginia, and they at

least are "very good," although they may not be the "best." There is no

excuse for any one in this country why he should not grow his own

grapes, for the use of his family at least, if he has any ground to

grow them on.