[NAFEX] Strawberry grape

Thomas Olenio tolenio at sentex.net
Thu Apr 19 10:03:25 EDT 2007




In Italy Fragolino is still made for local consumption (semi sparkling
dessert wine).  It is known as "uva fragolla" or "uva americana" in Italy.
We know it as the Isabella grape.  Since it is not pure vinfera wine made
from it cannot be exported from Italy.






Isabella Grapes


I have a site about Silas McDowell (1795-1879)
an apple and grape grower who introduced many new apple 
varieties and, late in life, became interested in viticulture. 
I have been able to find little about a grape variety he 
worked with - Isabella. He apparently obtained cuttings from 
the Cherokees and tried to improve them. Do you know anything 
about this grape variety? Duane Phillips

Isabella (Vitis Labrusca var. Isabella) has a long history and questionable
origin. U.P. Hedrick, in his 1908 work The Grapes of New York, lists it as a
probable cross between Labrusca and Vinifera. It was originally secured by
William Prince of Flushing, Long Island from Mrs. Isabella Gibbs, the wife
of George Gibbs, a merchant then living in Brooklyn. Prince named it after
Mrs. Gibbs and states in his 1830 Treatise on the Vine that Mrs. Gibbs had
reported it came originally from the vicinity of Dorchester, South Carolina.

Nicholas Herbemont, in Southern Agriculture (1829), expressed doubts as to
Dorchester being its origin. He found that it was only known there as a
cultivated vine with a tradition of having been introduced by a gentleman
then dead. There were various accounts of it having originated in North
Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Europe, but none of these were given any

In the early days of American viticulture, Isabella was the grape of choice
in New England, while in the South Catawba was favored because it better fit
the longer growing season there. Isabella has been almost totally replaced
in the North by Concord and other hardier and more productive Vinifera
varieties and can only be found now in collections of experimenters,
amatures and breeders.

Isabella has large, well formed clusters and attractive, deep black berries
with thick bloom. The flavor is good but the thick skin and muskiness in
taste are objectionable for the table. It has a lustrous green, ample
foliage which remains late in the season, and these characteristics and its
vigor make it an attractive ornamental suitable for arbors, trellises and
porch supports.

It was introduced into Europe before 1830 where it was extensively
cultivated for the manufacture of a low-grade wine, and Hendrick considers
it quite probable that the phylloxera, which later decimated the vineyards
of Europe, was introduced on the roots of the Isabella.

Isabella is generally classed as a pure Labrusca, but the evidence for it
being a cross between Labrusca and Vinifera is strong but circumstantial.
Among these are the shape of the berries, certain characteristics of the
seeds, and the susceptibility of the vine to mildew and the berries to
black-rot. Hybrids of it with Vinifera are usually worthless, lacking in
vigor and hardiness. The Isabella X Vinifera progeny are so much more
substandard than those of other pure American grapes X Vinifera that this
further suggests a Vinifera lineage in Isabella. Such hybrids (Isabella X
Vinifera progeny) usually bear a stronger resemblance to Vinifera than do
offspring of other pure-bred American and Vinifera parents.

The thick skin adheres considerably to the pulp and is astringent. The flesh
is pale green, sometimes with a yellowish tinge, and is quite translucent.
It is juicy, fine-grained, tender but meaty, somewhat stringy, and is
inclined to foxiness but is sweet to agreeably tart at its center. The pulp
is slightly astringent when not mature and separates from the seeds with
some difficulty. In winemaking, the must ferments best at 60-79 degrees F.

Varieties and synonyms of Isabella include Alexander, Black Cape, Cape,
Captraube, Champania, Christie's Improved Isabella, Conckling's Wilding,
Constantia, Dorchester, Framboisier, Garber's Red-Fox, Gibb's Grape,
Hanover, Hensell's Long Island, Isabella d'Amerique, Lespeyre, New Hanover,
Paign's Isabella, Payne's Early, Raisin de Cassis, Raisin du Cap, Raisin
Fraise, Raisin Fromboise, Sainte-Helene, Saluda, Uva Fragola, Vernet, and
Woodward. Isabella is possibly the grape referred to as Cherokee,
Sandbornton and Schuylkill. Two once-notable varities of Isabella are
Isabella Seedling (originated by G.A. Ensenberger, Sr.) and Isaraella
(originated by Dr. C.W. Grant).

Because Isabella is no longer a commercially important grape, you won't find
many (if any) modern references to it. Most of the literature in which I
have found it mentioned is old and increasingly difficult to find. I
mentioned Hendrick's The Grapes of New York (1908), Prince's Treatise on the
Vine (1930), and Herbemont in Southern Agriculture (1829), but you might
also try Alden Spooner's The Cultivation of American Grape Vines (1849) and
Traite' General de Viticulture (in French, 6 volumes, Paris, 1903).




From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Lon J. Rombough
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:21 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Strawberry grape


"Strawberry" is a generic term in much of Europe referring to the taste of
labrusca grapes. Uva Fragola may be a specific hybrid, but in many places
it's often the old American "Isabella". Concord is often described as having
a strawberry flavor in parts of Europe.
-Lon Rombough
Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at
http://www.bunchgrapes.com Winner of the Garden Writers Association "Best
Talent in Writing" award for 2003. 
For even more grape lessons, go to http://www.grapeschool.com
For growing supplies and more; http://www.grapegrowersolutions.com

On Apr 19, 2007, at 3:00 AM, Bassem Samaan wrote:

Now here's a grape that's popular in Italy as a dessert grape. In Italy it's
known as "Uva Fragola" which translates to strawberry grape. According to an
Italian freind that visits italy frequently told me that this grape taste
more like a ripe strawberry.
A gardener in northern italy near Genova grows this grape. He mentioned that
Strawberry grape is a hybrid between american and european grape. It's very
vigorous and productive. Disease resistance as well, producing red color
grapes. It's illegal to produce wine made from Strawberry Grape in Italy.
I'm not sure why.
Here's a discription from a UK nursery source:
"STRAWBERRY GRAPE (also known as 'Fragole'). This is an unusual variety,
because its flavour is strawberry-like. The fruit is mauve and is very
prolific either in greenhouse or indeed quite successful outside. Is a
strong grower and makes good fruity wine."
Does anyone grow this grape in the US?
zone 6, Bethlehem, pa


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