Grapes

Grapevine/Grape

Scientific Name Vitis vinifera L.
Common Names English: Grape, grapevine; German: Traube, Weintraube, Weinstock; French: Grappe, vigne; Spanish: Uva, cepa, vid

Occurrence

Agriculture Importance

Grapes are one of the most widely-grown fruit crops in the world: vineyards cover a total area of 7.8 million hectares (19.5 million acres, 2007 figures) and produce a total yield of about 65 million metric tons, of which 7.7 million tons are for table grapes (2004 figures). The most important producers of grapes are as follows (2004 figures, given as percentage of world production):

Italy
13 %
Turkey
6 %
France
12 %
Iran
4 %
Spain
10 %
Argentina
4 %
USA
8 %
Australia
3 %
China
8 %
Chile
3 %

Crop Management

for Grapevine/Grape:

Cultivation Areas

Vines can be cultivated from temperate to tropical climates, but most vineyards are planted in temperate zones. Considering its large cultivation area, the most significant grape-growing region is Europe, with 5.2 million hectares (13 million acres, 2007 figures). The countries with the largest 'area under vine' sorted by acreage are: Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, China, USA, Iran, Portugal, Romania and Argentina (2005 figures). Grapevines are rigorously pruned each year. This means that the yield is reduced in quantity, but it gains in quality, and aeration of the foliage is improved, thus lowering the risk of fungal infections. The remaining shoots can be trained on trellissing wires very efficiently to ensure optimal utilisation of sunlight.

Taxonomy

Family

Cultivated vines are nearly always cultivars of the species Vitis vinifera (the "European vine") due to the quality of its berries. However, in most cases, this is grafted onto woodstocks from hybrids of other, American species (e.g. V. berlandieri or V. riparia) in order to reduce susceptibility towards diseases and pests, especially Phylloxera. All vines belong to the family Vitaceae.

Use

Food

The main growers of table grapes are Italy (1.5 million tons), Spain and Greece, the USA, Chile and South Africa, with the latter two countries primarily producing for export (2007 figures). In recent years, seedless cultivars such as 'Thompson Seedless' (sultanas, formerly used mainly for raisins) have gained in popularity for fresh consumption.

The traditional way of preserving grapes is drying. The production of raisins has been practiced for thousands of years; in antiquity, they were a staple food, and were sometimes even used as a sort of currency. They are still of importance, with world production of over 1 million tons (2008 figure). Sultana production is only economical where the weather is reliably warm and dry during the harvest season.

At present, the most significant exporters of raisins are Turkey, the USA, Greece, Australia and South Africa.

Beverage

By far the greatest proportion of harvested grapes goes into wine making. This is probably culturally the most important use of grapes, considering its significance in terms of tradition, literature and even religion.

In 2007, about 270 million hl wine were produced worldwide, ca. 208 million hl of this in Europe. The major wine-producing countries are, in descending order: France, Italy, Spain, the USA, Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, South Africa and Chile (2005). High-quality wines are increasingly in demand, and customers are increasingly more willing to accept higher prices.

Industrial Products

Grape juice is occasionally used as a sweetener in the food industry.

Facts on selected crops