Heard it through the grapevine

By Philip Evich

May 21 2019

Vitis is the genus of one of the world’s favorite horticultural crop: grapes. Defined by its “shreddy” bark and tendrils (those twining, string-like appendages coming off opposite a leaf), it’s easy to recognize wild grapes of many species growing all across the United States.

Vitis labrusca is eastern America’s native Concord grape (pictured above and as a specimen below). This species is known by its “foxy, musky smell,” and you will probably recognize it in jams, wines, and table grapes.

Vitis vinifera is the European counterpart to V. labrusca and is the most famous of wine grapes. This species is the starting point for 5,000-10,000 different varieties of grapes to make new wines across the globe!

Vitis mustangensis is a grape native to the southern region of the United States. Referring to its name, this grape is famous for mustang wine, an alcohol that traces its history back to the Antebellum, where Texan Thomas Affleck made and sold the wine throughout the southern states. The wine was known for being a gift wine as well as helping stave off malaria throughout the 19th century.

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