Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

vinifera, more correctly Vitis vinifera or V. vinifera, the European species of vitis that is the vine most used for wine production, to which all the most familiar vine varieties belong. Vinifera is not a classical Latin word, but one made up by Linnaeus (see botanical classification) to denote ‘wine-grape bearing’.

The species is thought to originate in south-eastern Anatolia or in Transcaucasia (see origins of viniculture), and has been spread through the Mediterranean and Europe by the Phoenicians and Greeks and later by the Romans. Vinifera was spread through the New World, initially by Cortés in south america, and subsequently into western North America. The Dutch took vinifera grapevines to the Cape of Good Hope in 1616 (see south africa), and the English to Australia, then New Zealand, beginning in 1788.