The vine lasts to a considerable age; it spreads also to a large extent, or, when supported, rises to a great height. Although it bears fruit at three or four years old, vineyards improve in quality, it is said, until they are 50 years old.
Pliny mentions a vine which had reached the age of six hundred years. In France and Italy there are entire vineyards still in existence, and in full bearing, which were in the same condition at least three centuries ago, and have continued so ever since.
The slender stems of ordinary vines, when they have attained a considerable age, are remarkably tough and compact; and the timber of the very old ones in foreign countries is occasionally large enough to saw into planks and to be made into furniture. It is almost indestructible.
An enormous vine which was trained against a row of houses at Northampton, covered, in 1785, 137 square yards. It was then around a hundred years old. At that time, the principal stem of this vine was about 50 inches in diameter.
Of the variety of the vine called the Black Hamburgh there are several remarkable trees in England, covering a great extent of surface, and bearing, under glass, a profusion of the finest fruit. Of these, among the most celebrated are the Hampton Court vine, and the vine at Valentine's, in Essex. The Hampton Court vine is in the grape - house on the North side of the Palace: it covers a surface of 22 ft by 72 ft. It is a most productive bearer, having more than 2,000 clusters on it every season. In the year 1816, there were at least 2240, weighing each, on the average, a pound; so that the whole crop weighed a ton and merely as an article of Commerce, was worth upwards of four hundred pounds. The Valentine's vine extends over the greater surface, and has a larger trunk, but it is not, in the average season, so productive. It has, however, been known to produce 2,000 bunches of a pound each.
This article was paraphrased from "Vegetable substances used in the Arts and in the Domestic Economy" printed by William Clowes, London, 1829.
Nigel Deacon, Diversity website
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