American vine species

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

American vine species, those members of the grapevine genus vitis which originate in North and South America, including Mexico and the Caribbean. About half the vine species of the world are native to America, but they are poorly suited to winemaking. However, when all efforts to grow European vine species vinifera in North America failed through pest, disease, or climatic extreme (see united states, history), wine was made in North America of necessity from these species, detailed below.

After the development of american hybrids and the successful cultivation of V. vinifera vines in california and elsewhere in the Americas, native vines were rarely used for wine. A notable exception is V. rotundifolia, particularly the scuppernong and related bronze- and black-fruited varieties used for a sweet, musky wine popular in the southern United States, where they are both grown and cultivated.

Vitis vinifera has varied leaf forms among its many varieties, not always with five distinct lobes as shown here.