Vitis vinifera

Vitis vinifera

The common vine or Eurasian vine (Vitis vinifera L., 1753) is a shrubby species, with climbing habit, belonging to the Vitaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Order Rhamnales, Family Vitaceae and therefore to the Genus Vitis, to the Subgenus Euvitis and to the Species V. vinifera.

Etymology –
The generic term derives from the Latin vitis, vine shoot, sarmento, a name also used to indicate the vine, but also other climbing plants; the specific epithet comes from vínum, bunch, wine and féro bring: that is, that produces fruits in bunches and that can be used to make wine.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Vitis vinifera is allochthonous or cultivated and of unknown origin. Currently it is present in all continents except Antarctica, so it is one of the most cosmopolitan plant species in existence. The vine is a heliophilous plant; in the low latitudes the availability of solar radiation is sufficient to ensure its production, except in vintages with very rainy summers, during which the sugar content of the grape is reduced. At the higher latitudes, the photoperiod and the temperature negatively affect the maturation and sugar content.

Description –
The Vitis vinifera is a climbing shrub with a bearing depending on the plant or natural support on which it climbs. In the cultivated vine the bearing is decided by the producers according to various factors, such as climatic trends, production needs, sugar content, variety, etc. The stem is more or less twisted and irregular, of varying length, with persistent rhytidome. Branching originates from three types of gems; from the dormant sprouts develop in the following spring; from the ready ones, second-order shoots are developed in the same year, commonly called “feminelle”; from the latent buds, which remain in quiescence for an indefinite number of years, they generate more or less vigorous buds, commonly called succhioni. The young branches in the herbaceous state are called shoots or vine pines, once lignified they are called shoots. The leaves (vine leaves) are palmate, with whole limb or subdivided in general into 3 or 5 lobes more or less deep. The flowers are in panicle inflorescences, first erect and then pendulums (compound bunch). The sparse bunch is a characteristic of table grapes, while the tight bunch is typical of wine grapes. The fruit is a berry, called color berry, at maturity depending on the variety; it ranges from green to yellow, from rosy to red-violet, from black to bluish-black, with intensity and shade that can also vary according to environmental conditions.

Cultivation –
Vitis vinifera is cultivated a little around the world. In Europe it is cultivated in central and southern regions; in Asia in the western regions (in Anatolia, Caucasus and the Middle East) and in China; in Africa it is cultivated in the northern regions and in South Africa; in North America it is cultivated mainly in California, but also in New Mexico, New York State, Oregon, Washington State, British Columbia; it is cultivated in Mexico and some circumscribed areas and in South America in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil; it is also cultivated in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand.

Uses and Traditions –
The history of Vitis vinifera and its relationship with man is lost in the most remote eras; probably at the end of the Neolithic and probably following an accidental fermentation of grapes conserved in rudimentary vessels. The first traces of vine cultivation have been found in the Caucasus region, in Armenia and in Turkestan, while the first historical references to the vine and the wine are found among the Sumerians in the Epopea of ​​Gilgamesh (III millennium BC). testimonies have been found of the cultivation of the vine in numerous Egyptian hieroglyphs, where the wine was a drink reserved for priests, high officials and kings. It was the Greeks who introduced viticulture in Europe, already in the Minoan era. Greek settlers are responsible for the introduction of viticulture in Sicily and in other areas of southern Italy, where the cultivation encountered ideal climatic and pedological conditions, to the point of making the region deserve the name Enotria. It was the Etruscans who perfected viticulture techniques considerably, developing an intense wine export activity and spreading it far beyond the Mediterranean basin. Later it was the Romans to further refine the wine-making techniques learned from the Etruscans, as illustrated by numerous works, in which are found biological concepts and techniques of culture still valid, such as the De agri culture by Marco Porcio Catone, De re rustica by Marco Terenzio Varrone, the Georgics of Publio Virgilio Marone and the De re rustica by Lucio Giunio Moderato Columella. Although cultivation went into decline with the crisis and fall of the Roman Empire; subsequently, between the fifth and tenth centuries the preservation of the wine heritage is mainly due to the monastic orders: the Basilians and the Benedictines, which gave new impetus to the cultivation of the vine in Europe bringing it to the extreme limits of latitude and altitude, with particular relevance in France, with princes and feudal lords, the cultivation of the vine and the production of wine became symbols of prestige. With the discovery of America, the vine entered the New Continent, first in Mexico and later also in South America.

Preparation Mode –
The use of Vitis vinifera is mainly linked to two strands; that of wine and fruit. The former has obviously remote origins and has generated a series of traditions that have led to the fermentation and production of various types of wines: from table wines, sparkling wines to full-bodied and dessert wines. The second great use is that of table grapes. In recent times, a portion of the production was destined for unfermented juices and therefore without alcohol content.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.




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