Grape growing advances

Peter F May, St Albans, UK

Congratulations to Phyllis Burger on breeding Joybells, a new seedless table grape. (Bolander, February 14).

It’s interesting to note how completely new seedless table grapes have swept aside the popular, but seeded, varieties we used to eat.

Yet while new wine grapes are constantly being bred, most consumers continue to drink historic varieties.

Of 28 named table grape varieties being grown at South Africa’s Paarl Viticultural Experiment Station 100 years ago, only two – Hanepoot (Muscat) and Sultana (Thomson Seedless) – are still grown for the table.

But all 27 wine grape varieties mentioned in A I Perold’s 1916 report from Paarl are still in use, and some such as Malbec are even more popular now.

While South Africa has subsequently bred several new wine grape varieties, including Chenel, Nouveau, Roobernet, Therona and Weldra only Perold’s Pinotage has, so far, achieved success.

Peter F May is the author of A Year In Paarl with A I Perold – Vine and Wine Experiments 1915-1916.

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