Vineyards are believed to have been introduced to Europe by the Phocaeans c.600 B.C. References by Homer and Vergil and in the Bible confirm that viticulture was widespread in the Mediterranean region in antiquity. Large areas of France, Italy, the Rhineland, Spain, and Portugal eventually proved hospitable to V. vinifera, which also flourished in Greece, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and the Azores. In A.D. 81 Emperor Domitian, fearing grain scarcity, restricted the spread of vineyards in Italy. The Romans also carried the vine to England, where its cultivation was attempted sporadically until the 19th cent. with scant success. Repeated attempts to transplant grapes to the New World began early in the 17th cent. but Tuscan vine growers in Virginia (working for Thomas Jefferson) and German immigrants from the Rhineland to Pennsylvania failed. Grape growing did not succeed in the early United States until the introduction of commercial varieties—the Catawba in 1830 and the Concord in 1849—of phylloxera-resistant species native to the E United States.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.