The Grape Vine is one of the oldest fruit-bearing plants in cultivation, as it is frequently mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, from the record of the flood to the Crucifixion. In many countries whose climate is suitable, the growth of the grape and the manufacture of wine from its juice has for many years been an important industry. In England the cultivation of the grape is also of considerable antiquity. There is reason to believe that the plant was first introduced into this country by the Romans, and it is mentioned occasionally in the Saxon chronicles. Towards the end of the middle ages, a vineyard was included in the grounds attached to tire castles and monasteries, and the Domesday Book mentions the vine in several counties. Owing to our moist climate, however, grape growing made but little progress until artificial cultivation began to be studied and understood. Until very recent times this delicious fruit was the luxury only of the wealthy classes, but the vine is now cultivated on commercial lines, and its products come within the reach of persons of very moderate incomes. The vine lends itself admirably to artificial treatment, and British grown grapes, thanks to the skill and care bestowed upon its cultivation, are excellent in appearance and flavour. The products of our own hothouses are now cheaper than foreign grapes were a few years ago, while the quality is vastly superior.
The gardener who grows everything well except the vine, is lacking one of the most interesting and important, and often a profitable phase of his profession, and this truth being now generally recognised, there exists a widespread and constantly increasing desire on the part of amateurs and professional gardeners alike for reliable information on the subject. Books on Vine Culture are few in number, and the present volume is written to meet a need for more information than is available at the present time. The author has been a practical grower of grapes for many years, and his numerous successes at the leading fruit exhibitions of the country have been recorded from time to time in the gardening periodicals. The facts and suggestions contained in the following pages are based upon his own experience and observations covering a long period of years.