Grape fruitThe name Grape is from the French grappe, a bunch of grapes; from the same root as gripe or grab, to grasp. It is one of the most valuable fruits, not only because of its use in the manufacture of wine, and is the source also from which brandy, vinegar, and tartaric acid are obtained, but because, both in a fresh and dried state, it forms not a mere article of luxury, but a great part of the food of the inhabitants of some countries.
The cultivation of the vine was introduced into England by the Romans, and of late years its cultivation has much increased in gardens, on the walls of suburban villas and of cottages, but chiefly for the sake of the fresh fruit, although wine is also made in small quantities for domestic use.
The cultivation of the vine varies much in different countries. In the vineries of Britain the vines are carefully trained in various ways so as most completely to cover the walls and trellises and to turn the whole available space to the utmost account. The luxuriant growth of the plant renders the frequent application of the pruning-knife necessary during the summer.
The bunches of grapes are generally thinned out with great care, in order that finer fruit may be produced. By such means, and the aid of artificial heat, grapes are produced equal to those of the most favored climates, and the vine attains to a large size and a great age.
The famous vine at Hampton Court has a stem more than a foot in circumference, one branch measuring one hundred and fourteen feet in length, and has produced in one season two thousand two hundred bunches of grapes, weighing on an average one pound each, or in all about a ton.