By Harold McGee
The grapevine evolved with the ability to regenerate itself and grow vigorously in the spring. It’s easily propagated by cuttings, and readily lends itself to creating identical versions, or clones of a given plant. And it’s a variable species, one that offers many differences in growth habit, requirements for water and temperature, and fruit composition. For several millennia, and until around 1800, grapes were mostly cultivated and made into wine throughout western Asia and Europe by small groups of people essentially isolated from each other and living in different environments. So there developed a large number of distinctive grape varieties, each selected by particular people for characteristics they found desirable.