The History of Grapes in Florida and Grape Pioneers
Robert P. Bates'
John A. Mortensen2
Dennis J. Gray4
1. Professor Emeritus Food Science & Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida
2. Professor Emeritus, University of Florida
3. Professor Center for Viticulture Sciences and Small Fruit Research, Florida A&M
4. Professor Mid-Florida Agricultural Research and Education Center, University of Florida
A. Origin and development of Vitis
B. Indigenous people's involvement in dissemination and propagation
III. COLONIAL ERA GRAPE DISSEMINATION AND PROPAGATION
IV. EARLY INTRODUCTIONS Successes and Failures
V. THE SECOND GRAPE BOOM Realists, Optimists, and Scientists
VI. FOUNDING OF THE FLORIDA GRAPE GROWERS ASSOCIATION
B. FGGA Presidents
C.The Dynamics of Volunteer Organizations
E. Federal and Florida Agricultural Research and Extension Services
1. University of Florida Grape Research 1891-1929
2. IFAS Today
3. Florida A&M University Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research
4. The Leesburg Station
F. The Successful Search
VII. REBOUND FROM THE 1930s Moving Ahead
VIII. THE SECOND HUNDRED YEARS
A. The Wine Revolution
B. Back to Tallahassee
C. The Viticulture Policy Act
D. The Viticulture Trust Fund (VTF) and Viticulture Advisory Council (VAC)
E. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)
F. Small Acreage Big Results
G. The Romance of the Vine
H. Vinifera Chauvinism
IX. THE NEW MILLENNIUM
X. WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THE PAST- Is it Prolog?
B. The 30 Year Itch
C.Excerpts from "Foundations of American Grape Culture" By Munson
The purpose of this entire text and accompanying background material is to acknowledge the
People behind the Florida Grape Industry, past and present. In addition, there are individuals that
have helped immeasurably in advising us regarding literature sources, search techniques, and data
organization and presentation. The enhanced depth and scope of our investigation is largely due to
them. They are:
Vernon Kisling Associate Chair and Senior Associate Librarian at Marston Science
Library at the University of Florida, guided us through the complexities of identifying and
accessing literature resources. With his background in both agriculture history and library
sciences, his guidance and knowledge was very valuable and appreciated.
Jami Beserock Library assistant in the reference services and collections at Library West,
and staff in the department of humanities and social sciences at the University of Florida
assisted us in clearing up the complications faced in retrieving information in the microfilm
collection, from which most of our documents were digitized. She is currently organizing
and recategorizing the vast Florida newspaper microfilm collection and was a key person in
helping us get to the source in a thorough and time efficient manner.
Carl Van Ness University of Florida's University Archivist and Official Historian
provided exceptional expertise in the photo and text archives at UF and in Florida as well as
advice in organizing and formatting our final work. His perspective has been most helpful
and we thank him for his time and assistance. He recently co-authored a book entitled,
"Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future" which depicted UF's history from 1853 to 2003.
Ashley Wood and Ligia Ortega Director and Web Manager of Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Communication Services, suggested the value of a website and
provided guidance in organizing and transferring material. In first introducing the project to
them, they saw the value of the information that was collected made it possible for IFAS to
help support and administer the project. There were numerous e-mail and phone
correspondences to which they both have only been most helpful and patient. Their vision
for a more accessible document expands the value and utility of this final work.
Debra Herrera Faculty Development Program Coordinator and Training Coordinator at
the Center for Instructional Technology and Training (CITT) provided important details on
photo and text scanning, handling, and formatting techniques. Her expertise insights into
multi-media presentations and suggestions for an on line dialog to acquire additional
pertinent historical information broadened our perspective appreciably.
Rebecca Matta Food Science & Human Nutrition Department staff provided essential
advice and formatting services in dealing with the numerous unexpected media
complexities. Her help in identifying and meeting deadlines was vital to our project.
An absolutely essential participant, whose talent and endeavors have substantially increased the
focus, depth, and detail of this treatise, is Mana Watanabe. She was employed to handle routine
literature searches and copying duties. However, in view of her keen insights into our needs and
devoted commitment to the project, she is a valued contributor, whose ideas and findings are
incorporated throughout the text. Mana graduated from the Food Science & Human Nutrition
Department and is now a graduate student in Public Health. We consider her a proficient coauthor
and accomplished professional. We have learned much and benefitted greatly from her outstanding
services while she maintained a full academic course load.
In 2006 we submitted a proposal to the Viticulture Advisory Council to provide a history of grapes
in Florida and the people behind the Florida Grape Industry. The project was approved in 2007
with the objectives:
Produce a comprehensive, well illustrated article, "The People Behind the Florida Grape
Industry" or "Florida Grape Pioneers" that recites the history of grapes in Florida from the
ancient past, pre-colonial epoch to the present, stressing individuals and their
Provide a historical narrative that can serve as an inspiration and basis for documenting the
efforts and accomplishments of future contributors to the industry.
Archive this information in forms print, photographs, Internet, and disk that can be
utilized by the Florida Grape Growers Association (FGGA), Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and other professional organizations in
describing and promoting Florida grape activities, programs, and potential.
In the process of addressing these objectives, we have accumulated a considerable amount of
information pertaining to the historical background, individuals and organizations involved, and the
various phases of the grape industry in Florida up to the present. In fact, we have uncovered so
much text and graphic material available that it is important to make it part of a permanent record to
maintain and build upon. In addition, the task of identifying information sources and individuals is
time consuming and should extend far beyond the project termination. Indeed, by providing
information and identifying individuals who are part of the story, we hope to uncover more details
from interested parties (yourself included) and fill in many of the historical gaps that exist.
How to use this narrative and navigate the Digital Universe
The impressive and ongoing advances in Information Technology have both enhanced and
complicated our task of collecting, organizing, and presenting this historical information. The
traditional step of perusing library archives, requesting documents/copying from cooperating
libraries, and assimilating the results in print are now easier. Documents either exist on line or can
be scanning and both integrated into easily accessed and edited files. Furthermore, online services -
either free or available through University of Florida library or other nation-wide links put hitherto
unavailable or unknown material at one's fingertips.
However, ease of access has also expanded the amount of material requiring perusal and evaluation.
Over one and a half century of archives texts, microfilm, even well indexed and reproduced
periodicals (unfortunately, the minority) have been identified. Much is not indexed and some almost
unreadable due to the condition of the original documents or poor original microfilming focus and
lighting. Then there are frustrating gaps in useful publication series containing potentially valuable
articles, even missing promising volumes.
Mana Watanabe, our capable document locator laboriously went through available resources at the
University of Florida libraries and interlibrary loan requests. The accessibility of documents is as
Florida Dispatch- University of Florida has the most complete set of volumes and they were
viewed through microfilm and online sources. However, there were missing issues and volumes
scattered within and although we had tried to tie up some of the loose ends, it is impractical to
search for all missing articles, particularly when information contained might be redundant or
The Florida Agriculturist- UF has all of the volumes in hard print and on microfilm from 1878 to
1911 as well as a few years digitized through the online library. All have been reviewed.
The Florida Grower- Was obtained through hard print and microfilm. The University has a
complete set of the publication from its beginnings to present day. Volumes from 1998 to present
are digitized and available through the library catalog also.
Florida Experiment Station Reports- Were obtained through microfilm at the University. The
reports from 1869-1950 were viewed and skimmed for grape related articles.
The Florida Times Union- UF has a complete (or fairly close to complete) set of the Times Union
issues on microfilm. However, to skim through even a year of this daily publication for grape
related articles was impractical, so we relied on available indexes of the Times Union.
Unfortunately, there were only limited indexes as they were made sporadically through the years of
the publication. Indices from other state libraries were unavailable and not able to be viewed. The
available indices at the University of Florida were- 1895-1911, 1915-1924, 1929, 1938, 1941, 1943-
1945, 1948-1952, 1956-1959, 1961-1963, 1966-1967, 1976-1980.
Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society- The UF library has all volumes of the
proceedings of the FSHS meetings. They were viewed in hard copy and all pertinent grape articles
digitized up to the late 1990s. The digitized volumes are available for viewing on the FSHS website
at http://www.fshs.org/ (Click back to view old volumes).
Perhaps someday robots (people aren't up to it) will automatically scan and, just as important,
index all surviving copies and microfilm of pertinent material in all libraries for our purposes
Florida city, county, and state libraries will do. Then, by judicious use of key words, the sought
material will appear legibly on screen or if the robots are smart enough, in edited, readily usable
Since we're not there yet, here are some hints for navigating this publication:
A large number of pertinent references have been scanned and are available in pdf form in
the Bibliography-Chronology by published date. Other dated material is linked to on line
library sources available to Internet users. Some references are on line, but limited access
due to various library restrictions. A minority of cited references are neither linked nor
scanned, so traditional off-line access is necessary. These are identified (In Green=go to
If it is in printed (hardcopy) form, the photos and reference links will be online as indicated.
If you're on line, just click on the links. Remember, some may be in limited-access
If you're viewing a disk or portable memory device, most links are there, or on line as
The material is organized in six parts:
1. The Text, as presented here, incorporates all of the above to tell a coherent story with
particular emphasis upon the individuals involved those pioneers who put and kept grapes
on the Florida scene. Much of this can be inferred from the records, the personal recollection
of old timers still around, and as yet undiscovered information or articles. The final task,
now underway, is to organize and prepare the cited components in a form amenable to
continuing identification, acquisition, and presentation. The aim is to make everything
available to the Florida Grape Community and all others interested in the topic. We propose
an open, well publicized website of the material linking all parts to the text and linked to the
major organizations noted. In addition, portions of this material will be available for editing
and inclusion in future Florida Grape Growers Association Newsletters.
2. The Bibliography-Chronology consists of a listing of all documents and sources with
pertinent information derived from books, journals, bulletins, news articles and clippings, or
other printed or electronic sources. As feasible, all obtained material (too large to print) have
been scanned, organized, and recorded. These are available in pdf form, linked to websites,
or otherwise made as accessible as possible to the general public. Documents so acquired
dates back to Colonial Florida and increases through the late 1800s to the present. To date
are well over 1,000 pdf files and scores of Word and jpeg documents consisting of text,
photos, and figures in excess of 3 gigabytes, and growing.
3. A TimeLine refers to the Bibliography-Chronology (digitized documents/archives) where
the documents are put in perspective with people and events interpreted from the 1500s with
items almost annually from about the 1870s. Some copied or scanned portions are very
difficult to read, due to the condition of the original or accessed document; we'll try to
4. A PeopleLine has descriptive information about individuals and their activities and
contribution to the Florida grape industry. A concerted effort is being made to strengthen
this section locate, interview, and collect documents and photos from these remaining few
or their descendants.
5. A Figure file contains photos and copied items which are show in the text as thumbnail
copies, accessed full size by clicking on the thumbnail.
6. [Comments [so enclosed] are personal observation relating to the text.] Notes in red indicate
material that is questionable or still being sought from contributing individuals or known
OK, let's get started.
With a dynamic, growing Florida grape industry, with so much potential, why are we interested in
the past? Particularly in view of the several comparatively short lived booms and busts over the
preceding century and a half, what relevance do the struggles of those early grape pioneers have to
do with today? Our rationale follows, as we wish to introduce you to fascinating chapters in the
development of grapes in Florida and, most importantly recognize those individuals who set the
stage for the present and future.
The story is continuing and some of you, by your efforts and commitments to Florida grapes will
become part of the narrative. In all grape functions involving the Florida Grape Grower Association
(FGGA) and other organization with a focus on grapes, there is a record of active and informative
meetings, conferences, and field days. These stress the technical, business, and legal challenges
facing the Florida Grape Industry. Those involved in the past and we today must be doing
something right, since the industry continues to grow and thrive. However, we usually tend to
neglect the personal aspect. That is, those people who have pioneered the industry (and even some
presently active, on whose shoulders the future strongly depends). We seem to take people for
granted, and that's unfortunate. Therefore, we intend to identify some past and present Florida
Grape People of Distinction, recognize their accomplishments, and provide a cogent history of
grape progress in Florida.
The FGGA was officially founded in 1923 [Actually, a few years older as we'll see], but the history
of grapes in Florida go back much further, in fact to 1565 with the first mention of wine from
grapes in the New World. Over the centuries, particularly since the 1870s, the efforts of many
distinguished, dedicated individuals have resulted in the dynamic industry that now exists. The
conditions under which Florida grape pioneers worked and the legacy which they left is well worth
recording as an impressive reminder to present and future generations of Florida grape growers and
the industries they serve.
There is an impressive and continuing record of Florida grape research in the literature archives, yet
it is often difficult to identify the individuals involved and their contributions receive scant mention,
particularly in recent documents. (The older literature is much more personal, albeit less technically
focused.) Neither research scientists, dedicated growers, nor committed FGGA members are
emphasized in the literature. The time frame is likewise obscure. We wish to introduce a historical
perspective and knowledge about those individuals responsible for the Florida Grape Industry's
current status, the challenges they overcame, and the legacy they left. Through the literature,
personal recollection, FGGA archives, and colleagues (those few still around) there is an exciting,
inspiring story of how these Grape Pioneers developed or contributed to the successful industry that
We can only convey the record by interpreting text and continuing the search for obscure articles.
You may be able to do likewise. Thus we invite those of you with insights into the past history of
grapes in Florida and the people involved to contact us with additional information or corrections.
We've observed errors in past documents, and ourselves are not immune to glitches in transcribing
or interpretation. Events, spellings, dates, or locations occasionally do not match known facts (or
cast doubt upon them). This is frustrating since it requires quite some detective work back
tracking, deduction, even guessing to resolve the contradiction. Personal memories fade with time
and clarifications may be impractical.
Let's put the past in perspective. As you sit in a comfortable, well lit, temperature and humidity
controlled environment to read, or effortlessly access text, photos, or video on your computer (or
even cell phone) and follow links over the Internet, reflect on the challenges faced by our
predecessors. Figure 1 shows the home of a notable grape pioneer, Emile DuBois near Tallahassee
in the late 1880s and Figure 2 is an upper middle class dwelling of a prominent farmer involved in
grapes in Waldo over 100 years ago, -1890-1900 (Buchholz,1929 pp 178-9,343) Note that there is
no electricity, phone, air conditioning, carport, etc. points to ponder when modern conveniences
are temporarily disrupted.
Figure 1. Emile DuBois in front of San Figure 2. Home of T.K. and Sally Godbey,
Luis home, late 1880s Waldo, 1900 (FlaStateArchives) Sally
standing in front of house
Books and technical literature were scarce and the exciting work of George Husmann
(Husmann, 1883) in California and T.V. Munson (Munson, 1909) in Texas, and other
viticulturists took weeks, if not months to reach end users. Back and forth communications were
likewise slow; "snail mail" was the norm. Similarly, individual travel, especially in Florida while
the rail system was being developed was painfully slow. At that, the train trip from Gainesville to
Savannah, Georgia took about 11 hours, now covered by car in a few hours. The routine trip
between Jacksonville and Tallahassee, a direct shot on the Interstate highway, was a rugged day
or so. Heading far south into the peninsula interior was even more of a challenge.
Consequently, print media and organizations evolved to provide the necessary information
transfer. These communications proved to be surprisingly effective and perusing them provides
an intriguing picture of Old Florida. Since agriculture was the primary industry in state, there is a
fairly complete record. Those of you with farm backgrounds will recognize the severe challenges
faced by our ancestors and the commendable efforts they took to overcome them. Grapes played
a prominent role in those times and we'll now address them.
A. Origin and development of Vitis
Vines existed 60-70 million years ago, presumably evolving during the transition from Upper
Cretaceous to Tertiary era. How did the Vitis genus evolve and specific species get to the New
World? Actually, there is some indication that Vitis originated in North America. The rationale is
that there was more Vitis species diversity in this continent than in any other land mass. Hence,
North America was probably the origin of the genus, possibly before the Atlantic Ocean widened
appreciably that's a very long time ago.
Vitis vinifera has been traced to Eurasia, the Caspian Sea region, or the Mid-East. However,
although the most popular species and widely cultivated wherever practical (and in some locales
where it's highly impractical), vinifera is less disease resistant and more delicate. Hence, it
probably evolved later in a more benign environment than other more rugged Vitis species that
populated North America and had to survive during many severe climatic changes glacial
cooling and tropical heating epochs, and accompanying substantial sea level fluctuations.
As far as grape species in what is now Florida, the selective pressures of climate and
environment severely limited the spread of Vitis species indigenous to northern North America.
(Rogers and Mortensen, 1979; Halbrooks and Mortensen, 1989). Even Vitis vinifera didn't make
it or evolved in Eurasia later. Instead, the more adaptable, hardy Muscadine, Vitis rotundifolia
evolved, spread, and prospered. As natives and early settlers discovered, the rugged nature of this
tough-skin, firm-pulp species was a distinct regional advantage and is still extremely pertinent.
However, early explorers didn't think much of them "The wild grapes of America are of little
worth, they usually run up the trees of the forests." (Stork, Undated, citing Bartram, pg 28). It is
unclear if arbors or any grape cultivation existed before the introduction of European or northern
grape species, but wild grapes were abundant (Fairbanks, 1868 pg 32, 35).
Other rugged bunch grape species indigenous to Florida grew wild and may have interbred with
V. vinifera introduced by settlers from colonial times on. However, the quality of these original
wild grapes was generally unacceptable, so muscadine consumption dominated. An example of
the inedibility of these wild bunch grape species is reflected in a sample found in Central Florida
in the 1980s. Berries on an unblemished, compact bunch were about the size of small blueberries
(-5mm diameter), slightly reddish when ripe, and contained about 19% sugar. That is
surprisingly high for a wild grape and acceptable for eating or wine. However, the fruit was
extremely sour; the pH was about 2.9 and acidity (expressed as tartaric acid) was over 2.5%,
more than twice the level desired for consumption. Perhaps this composition explains why the
species survived in the wild. Nevertheless, the rugged nature of such wild stock should warrant
the attention of breeders and molecular biologists today.
B. Indigenous people's involvement in dissemination and propagationPre-colonial
Florida, according to a comprehensive historical record of agriculture in Florida (Cresap, 1982)
was populated by a number of native tribes. Some were hunter gatherers with only scant
involvement with agriculture. Less nomadic tribes established villages and practiced community
agriculture. When farming did exist, it involved corn as the basic stable along with beans,
gourds, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, watermelon, pears and "other fruits and roots". Tobacco
was the focus of some production and fowl and deer were also partially domesticated. Grapes, of
course were abundant as the indigenous wild species, and undoubtedly were consumed -
collected or grazed, but not domesticated or cultivated and mentioned only in passing in these
early narratives. However, wild grapes were part of the diet and dried grapes used as a stored
staple and during expeditions. (Ober, 1906 pp 191, 296)
III. COLONIAL ERA GRAPE DISSEMINATION AND PROPAGATION
The situation didn't change much with early colonizers who were focused on conquest,
pacification, and conversion of the natives but primarily on exploitation of the fabled New
World resources. Ironically those sought-after riches were lacking, but a far more valuable
treasure Florida's agricultural potential was literally and figuratively under their feet.
The first Spanish arrivals to Eastern and Western Florida (roughly coastal regions from what is
now Pensacola to St. Augustine) were soldiers and adventurers with little interest in or
appreciation for Agriculture. Due to encounters with aggressive natives (who had every reason to
act inhospitably), shipwrecks, and poor preparation these colonization efforts failed.
French adventurers to Eastern Florida in the mid 1500 fared even worse, with starvation being
almost as much of a threat as their Spanish competitors and, in the case of Fort Caroline their
executioners (Gissendaner, 1996, pp 34,146). The Huguenots legacy was production of the first
wine recorded in the new world- around 1565 near present Jacksonville. Their leader,
Laudonniere reported abundant wild grapes in 1562 probably around what is now known as St.
John's Bluff in Duval County (Fairbanks, 1868 pg 96).
In order to enforce ownership of Florida and promote self sufficiency, the Spanish Crown finally
encouraged farmers and non military settlers with land and other incentives. However, faced
with hostile natives and belligerent French and English military excursions, they barely avoided
Similar debacles were being played out in Western Florida. (What we now call the Panhandle.)
Colonists were largely confined to fortified enclaves near the coast and a coherent agriculture
policy was in limbo. Nevertheless, sustenance was available from Spanish possessions in the
Caribbean, where less conflict favored agriculture based on local crops together with plants,
seeds and livestock shipped from Spain. Hence came citrus to Florida, along with grapes, which
failed even mention, with one exception. Grapes were "raised" near St. Augustine in the early
1600s (Corse, 1935 p23,26), presumably due to the influence of Spanish missionaries. [We can
assume grape growing was attempted, since similar Spanish cargo bound for South America and
the West Coast eventually resulted in thriving grape industries elsewhere in the New World,
even El Paso, later part of Texas (Hendricks, 2004).]
After over 200 years of strife and starvation, the agricultural situation improved somewhat due to
English settlers encroaching from the north and eventually, to England gaining temporary
possession of the Florida territory in 1763. These settlers were more agriculturally oriented and
engaged in serious farming. They were joined by English immigrants from the northern United
States who, due to their loyalty to the crown, were displaced by the Revolutionary War. At last
grape growing, even a grape arbor in St. Augustine was mentioned circa. 1767, it was probably
muscadine (Cresap, 1982, Chapt.3 pg 25; Pinney, 1989 pg.60.; Fairbanks, 1868 pg. 96). Later,
"..grapes of all kinds.." were reportedly growing in St. Augustine prior to U.S. ownership (East
Figure 3. Grape Harvest in Florida, 1871 (FlaStateArchives)
These activities spread down the east coast to New Smyrna and west to Pensacola. In any case,
imported grape vines were reportedly flourishing by 1770 (Reference unavailable). The resulting
mix of successful and failed English colonization efforts ceased in 1783 when Florida was ceded
back to Spain and not much progress was reported until Florida became U.S. territory in 1821.
Nevertheless, insights into successful agriculture had been gained and persistent settlers and
settlements had survived.
As the territory was settled, turbulent times continued. In the interim between the conclusion of
the Seminole War in 1842 and Civil War hostilities, Florida entered the Union in 1845.
Agriculture progressed dramatically. Implicit in these activities were the expansion of water, rail,
and road transportation and the opening of the less accessible interior. By 1865 the stage was set
for Florida agriculture development and grapes came on the scene.
I. EARLY INTRODUCTIONS SUCCESSES AND FAILURES
Ever since the initial colonization of Florida, settlers have attempted to grow grapes from their
native regions of origin. Indeed, even recent arrivals attempt the same, with similar dismal
results. Initial introductions were Vitis vinifera from Europe. Although this species barely
survived in the north and did spectacularly well in California (due to a comparatively dry
growing season and mild winters), Florida plantings from the 1500 to present were largely
unsuccessful. Nevertheless the people involved and their trials and tribulations are well worth
The first recorded mention of grapes in what is now Florida, described wine made from wild
grapes by French Huguenots near present Jacksonville (Adams, 1985). Actually, this may be the
first written mention of wine produced in the New World the entire Western Hemisphere.
Neither the Huguenots nor the wines did well, since neither survived the Spanish colonial epoch.
The grapes involved were undoubtedly muscadines and little is known regarding their
propagation. They were probably collected from vines growing up tree trunks (Figure 4).
Figure 4. MuscadineCovered Oak. -1900
Of course, Florida was not the only southern region experiencing grape industry devopment, just
the most extreme and difficult. An excellent description of parallel viticulture and wine
development throughout the Southeast, including some in Florida, is presented by de Blij (De
Blii, H. J., 1987). Neighboring Southeastern states were likewise subjected to similar
demographic and political trends and their respective industries also progressed by fits and starts.
However, grapes did much better in these other states, particularly in the highlands, where even
some vinifera varieties at least survived.
The record becomes much clearer in the latter half of the 19th century, essentially after the Civil
War. Here "The French Connection" merits attention (Thomson, 1987; Paisley, 1968). As a
reward for his services during the Revolutionary War, the Marquis de Lafayette was given a
large land grant in the Florida Territory around Tallahassee by the U.S. Congress in 1824.
Lafayette, with the encouragement of the Florida Territorial Governor W.P. Duval, chose a
group of 50 to 60 Norman peasants to settle on the shores of Lake Lafayette in 1831. Their
farming endeavors included the planting of grapes [presumably French varieties] with the intent
of producing wine. These efforts failed and the surviving participants either returned to France or
settled elsewhere around Tallahassee or New Orleans.
Figure 5. Lafayette Grant, 1831. (Alvers and Mahaffey, 1995 pg. 25)
There was some mention of grapes as early as 1875 pertaining to successful vineyards. Jno. A.
Craig, Tallahassee spoke highly of his experience with some labrusca varieties. He cited local
success and mentioned that grapes were introduced on Merritt's Island in 1875 (Semi-Tropical 1:
18-20, 1875). Craig and his partner, Bradford in 1882 sold some of their Tallahassee vineyard
property to a prominent individual who soon made his mark. Craig's article provided cultivation
suggestions, called Florida "The Italy of America", and closed with a poem honoring Florida and
Beautiful Florida! Land of our dreams
Earth's fairest daughter; beside thy bright streams,
Ponce de Leon wandered in search of the truth
Of that mythical water, the "Fountain of Youth."
We erect to the alter garland with flowers,
Around which are clustered the vine laden bowers,
And ask for thy children, where they can find
This fountain of youth, the desire of mankind!
We fill high the goblet, whose roseate hue,
Vies with thy flowers, in their setting of dew;
We drink to thy hillocks, we drink to thy plains,
To thy sparkling rivulets and flowering vales;
We drink thou hast answered, we feel it incline,
Our hearts to their Spring time; 'tis thy own native wine.
In an accompanying article, also speaking highly of Florida and its grape potential, Col. Malachi
Martin was doing well selling scuppernong wine at $2.25/gallon and making $1,000/acre. E.H.
Mason and A.I. Bidwell, Duval County and W.K. Cessna, Alachua County confirmed his view.
Bidwell indicated that his bunch grape, 'Hartford Prolific' was making $400/acre and other non
muscadine were valued at $300/acre (Semi-Tropical 1: 23-28, 1875). Martin's Gadsden County
grape plantings were initiated in 1869 and his vineyard and wine business continued successfully
after his death (Davidson, 1889 pg 153).
A.J. Bidwell, a prominent horticulturist who merits attention later, provided a useful overview of
the Florida viticulture situation around 1875 (Bidwell, 1876 pg 263). He settled near Jacksonville
in 1867 and successfully planted a labrusca vineyard that served the local market. He mentions
several vineyards on the St. Johns River prior to 1860 that existed but were abandoned during the
Civil War. [Bidwell's presentation was a paper read before the Florida Fruit Growers
Association Convention in 1875 and curiously appended to (Lanier, 1876) a fascinating yet
convoluted description of: "Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History".]
A number of bunch (primarily labrusca) and muscadines were recommended for various regions
of Georgia (FlaDispatch 2(14)1, 1877), although Florida was not ignored (Figure 6). Around this
time throughout the South there was interest in attracting immigrants, especially those with
agricultural experience and financial resources. So a very rosy picture was painted to attract
people of means. Of course the Scuppernong was well known and popular from Pensacola to
Ocala with residents, if not with those brought up on vinifera or labrusca (FlaDispatch 2(26)1,
1877; FlaDispatch 3(11)2, 1878; FlaDispatch 3(12)2, 1878; FlaDispatch 3(28)1, 1878). Bunch
grapes were also grown, but local availability was apparently somewhat limited. An 1878 list of
seedmen were exclusively in the North (FlaDispatch 2(39)1, 1878), since the state nursery
industry was just getting started. However, that soon changed as Agriculture Associations were
initiated and nurserymen from the North settled in.
Figure 6. Valdosta Ad (FlaDispatch 2(15)4, 1877)
Note dupious claim of total Florida adaptability.
Growers in East Florida were actively planting vinifera and labrusca and experimenting with
native rootstock. The Florida Fruit Growers Association meetings discussed grapes and areas
such as Welaka, Indian River, and Duval County were mentioned. Topics such as varieties,
grafting, pruning, and soil requirements were discussed. Most importantly, results, ideas, and
opinions (often strong and conflicting) were communicated. Transportation was becoming easier
and the rail lines now connected East and West Florida (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Rail System in 1877 (FlaDispatch 2(1)3, 1877)
Where there are grapes, wine can't be far away, and that was certainly on the mind of growers.
Many Timeline and Bibliography-Chronology articles mention wine, and Florida growers were
looking enviously at California statistics and harboring enological ambitions (FlaDispatch 2(35)
1878; FlaDispatch 1(1)12, 1882). [The Florida Dispatch began a new series in 1882, hence
volume numbers started over, but volume numbers didn't match years.] With Florida wine
statistics at 83 acres and 11,000 gallons to California's 33,000 acres and 14 million gallons, there
was a long way to go. California had 2/3rds of total U.S. wine production and was just getting
started (FlaDispatch 1(7)108, 1882). In 1882 a person arrived in Florida with ambition, skill, and
modest resources. Fortunately, he didn't choose to settle in California, although there are
indications that he evaluated other U.S. locations prior to settling on Florida.
Figure 8. Pensacola 'Scuppernongs' (FlaDispatch 3(11)2, 1878)
It is unknown if there was any connection or prior information about the 1831 fiasco, but about
50 years later, after that Lafayette farm enterprise around Tallahassee, in 1882 another group of
French settlers arrived. Prominent among them was Emile DuBois who came "with the intention
of testing her [the South, specifically Florida's] capability as a grape growing country" (Paisley,
1967 pp 49-51; Wood, 1970). DuBois' diligent efforts met with more success than those before
him, and his influence extends to today.
DuBois, who presumably had the necessary financial resources, proceeded to purchase part of
the Andalusian Plantation from partners John A. Craig and John Bradford who operated a
nursery and had been experimenting with 'Concord' grapes since 1871 (Craig, 1875). These
growers had already established a vineyard and in 1875 were offering vines and boxed 'Concord'
and 'Ives' grapes for sale. Around the same time Col. Malachi Martin, Chattahoochee prison
warden, reported successful sales of Scuppernong wine (at $1.25/gallon) [later $2.25/gal] from
his 160 acre vineyard in Mt. Pleasant (Paisley, 1968).
Figure 9. State Fair Depicted (FlaDispatch 2(6)105, 1883) Note wines shown probably
before Dubois was in production.
Dubois then bought the old San Luis Mission Fort west of Tallahassee, which he named Chateau
San Luis and started viticulture in earnest. [The Mission has an interesting history before
DuBois' involvement and is now a 48 acre "Living History" museum and park
In a few years DuBois was a significant producer and marketer of wines from his Vitis labrusca
plantings, and shipping vines to other locations in Florida and elsewhere (Figures 10 to 14).
DuBois became a vocal spokesman and champion of Florida grapes by reporting on his
experiences in the existing agricultural publications. His wines were recognized in competition,
achieving prizes as the best of Florida in an Ocala competition.
DuBois exhibited grape and orange wines at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition
and served as chairman of the judging committee. When, after six years the Exposition Official
Report was not published, he took it upon himself to publish his report, "Wines and Brandies of
the World at the World's Columbian Exhibition" in 1900 (DuBois, 1900). Perhaps at his
prompting the the entire 1700 page, two volume "Report of the Committee on Awards of the
World's Columbian Commission" was published in 1901. It is fascinating in it's relevance to the
21st Century emphases, similarities, and differences. DuBois' 29 page article (similar to his
book), "History of the Vine, the Grape, and the Wine", is a marvelous snapshot of the 1893 wine
scene (DuBois, 1901).
DuBois exhibited 11 Florida wines, but did not submit them to competition (to maintain
impartiality). He was quite disappointed that French wines were withdrawn from competition
(award system disagreements) and not more prominently displayed. His quote, "A wine jury
without the wines and brandies of France is about like a boat without a rudder", reflects DuBois'
pride in the wine reputation of his native country (Pg. 1026). [Would he have similar feelings
about today's Florida wines? And what would he think of wines from the 'Blanc DuBois'
variety, named in his honor?]
Figure 10. Vine and Wine Ad, 1887 Figure 11. Emil DuBois' San Luis
(FlaFarmer&FruitGrower 1(29)227, 1887) Vineyard near Tallahassee Circa 1900
Figure 12. Harvest time at the San Luis Vineyards (FlaStateArchives, 1885)
Note shotgun -was this protecting against birds or humans?
Figure 13 & 14. DuBois's wine and brandy ads. Note the restriction on sales at the vineyard
in the 1904 ad (right) probably signify that Leon County was dry.
Figure 15 & 16. FlaDispatch 4(20)407,1885 and FlaDispatch 7(33)688,689,690Ads, 1887
In fact, Emile DuBois was involved in the foundation of the Florida State Horticultural Society
(FSHS). Much of the information pertaining to grape developments in state can be derived (or
inferred) from the Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society, founded in 1888. By
this time, DuBois was a frequent contributor of articles and comments pertaining to grapes in the
Florida Dispatch. During the First (initial) proceedings of the FSHS, DuBois was listed as Vice
President and a Committee on Grapes was formed, undoubtedly with his involvement
(FlaStateHortSoci 1:3-4, 10, 1888; Table 1.). The 2nd proceedings in 1889 didn't mention the
Grape Committee, but a paper by DuBois, as Chairman, was read (he didn't attend) providing a
comprehensive overview of grape varieties growing in Florida, (FlaStateHortSoci 2:24-28,
In these intriguing narratives grape euphoria is evident and we can see that there were quite a
few individuals, organizations, and publications involved. Available literature from the latter half
of the 19th century onward provides a reasonably detailed look at the pulse of Florida grape
developments. In addition, news clipping from Loren Stover's scrapbook and others provided
valuable insights decades later. Combined they tell an interesting story and identify key grape
contributors. Some of the earliest publications are very difficult to decipher, as indicated in
Figure 17. The Earliest Florida Dispatch on Microfilm. (FlaDispatch 1(48)1, 1860)
Published in Newnansville 1860, Later Jacksonville
These early FSHS, and to some extent FD reports were either oral presentations or submitted
papers read at the meetings (if the author was not attending), usually by a member of the
appointed committee in this case Grapes (Tablel). Presentations, mostly based on antidotal
experiences, perhaps with some attention to formal experimentation (the Scientific Approach),
were followed by questions and informal discussions, which were recorded. The scientific rigor
involving replication, statistics and 3rd person narrative evolved later. Nevertheless, the personal
discourse provides an excellent insight into the speaker's perspective and opinions, in contrast to
the impersonal presentations expected in technical papers today. Some of the discourse might
today be termed a Blog, slower moving but with the same motive. In contrast, from the start,
Agricultural Station reports were mostly factual and impersonal.
The accompanying Bibliography-Chronology contains the cited articles and relates to the
Timeline which summarizing pertinent details.
Composition of the FSHS Standing Committee on Grapes
Year Grape Committee Members Remarks
1888 Committee formed, but members not Emile Dubois FSHS Vice
yet appointed President
1889 Members not identified A paper by DuBois read in
1890 Members not identified Grape Committee reports
1891 Members not identified George A. Wright FSHS
1892 H. Von Luttichau George A. Wright FSHS
George A. Wright Vice president
G. P. Healy
1893 G. W. Peck George A. Wright FSHS
L. E. Haynes Vice president
E. C. Hammond
1894 Emile DuBois No Grape Committee
Frank E. Boncher members were FSHS
H. P. Walker Officers
1895 H. Von Luttichau No Grape Committee
I. B. La Montague members were FSHS
James Carnell Officers
1896 C. A. Bacon No Grape Committee
O. R. Thatcher members were FSHS
W. A. Emmons Officers
1897 I. B. La Montague No Grape Committee
J. H. Leslie members were FSHS
L. Q. Kermode Officers
1898 E.E. Pratt C. A. Bacon Vice
L. H. Armstrong President
A. V. Clubbs
1899 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki C. A. Bacon Vice
W. S. Hart President
A. B. Harrington Committees on Grapes,
W. H. Mann Figs, and Kaki combined
1900 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
H. Von Luttichau members were FSHS
W. D. Griffing Officers
G. A. Danley
1901 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
C. A. Bacon members were FSHS
A. B. Harrington Officers
A. G. Goodbody
1902 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki First proceedings without a
H. Von Luttichau grape report
C. F. Barber
1903 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
J. Earle Bacon members were FSHS
Wm. H. Earle Officers
C. M. Terrell
1904 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
H. Von Luttichau members were FSHS
J. H. Girardeau Officers
J. H. Wyley
1905 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
B. M. Hampton members were FSHS
J. E. Bacon Officers
A. J. Pettigrew
1906 Standing Committee on Grapes Figs and Kaki No Grape Committee
P. J. Westes members were FSHS
W. C. Steele Officers
J. E. Bacon
1907 Standing Committees were This was the last Grape
reorganized more along discipline Committee report
lines. Grapes combined with Peaches
and Deciduous Fruits
1908 Grapes not mentioned much except in Grapes not mentioned
passing prominently until 1919
At the 3rd FSHS meeting, DuBois made several cogent statements on wine. His average wine
yield/acre was 250 gallons. [Seems to be a very low by today's standard of -140-180 gallons/ton
and at least 3 tons/acre.] Although he had made a scuppernong [muscadine] wine and liked it, he
could sell 40 gallons of common [bunch grape] wine to one of muscadine. Furthermore, the
muscadine required the addition of water and sugar to extract the juice, and in DuBois' opinion,
that wasn't wine (FlaStateHortSoc 3:10, 1890). Interestingly, a surviving wine recipe from a
DuBois descendent (Table 2) provided an indication of Scuppernong wine production at that
time with plenty of sugar!
Etienne (Stephen) Beroud's Recipe for Scuppernong Wine
San Luis Vineyards, Tallahassee, Florida, [Undated and combined from several sources]
1 Barrell [sic] (about 4 bushels) Grapes
Put 45 lbs of sugar in ten gallons of water and dissolve it. Pour water over grapes and let ferment three
days and nights. Every day pushing the grapes back from the top of the water.
1 peck [crushed] grapes, fully ripe
2 /2 lbs. of sugar
2 /2 quarts of water
To each gallon of juice add 1 /2 lbs. of sugar.
Cover with cheese cloth.
Let ferment until bubbling stops (one to three weeks).
Skim occasionally but be careful not to disturb it.
Siphon off to bottle.
Leave an air space in top of bottle and insert tube (rubber) in this. Do not let the tube touch the liquid.
Seal tube entrance into the cork with parrafin. Put other end of tube in a bottle of water. When gas
bubbles stop passing into water it is ready to bottle in smaller amounts. Siphon off, then seal.
This should be done in a cool dark place.
Recipe acquired from
Maybelle Beroud Folson, daughter of
Etienne (Stephen) Beroud
[Stephen Beroud, brother of Marius managed San Luis Vineyards for Emile DuBois in the early 1900s.
See following descriptive paragraphs.]
[Note that inoculation with yeast is not mentioned (standard practice today), so relying upon wild yeast
was necessary. Pasteur's classic research was only recently reported -1870 and pure strains were
probably unavailable. Indigenous yeast sometimes ferment OK, but to follow this recipe successfully, we
recommend a pure strain of quality wine yeast.]
By the 4th FSHS Proceedings in 1891 DuBois reported (again, paper read, since he didn't attend)
on his viticulture experiences and cogently summarizing data from other publications
(FlaStateHortSoc 4:7-12, 1891). [Did Dubois' viticultural/enological duties keep him too busy,
or was it travel difficulties?] DuBois participated regularly in FSHS meetings and
correspondence published in the Florida Dispatch up to about 1894. He was last mentioned in
the FSHS membership list in 1896 (FlaStateHortSoc 9:vii, 1896) after which DuBois (Figures
18-20) disappeared from print, except being quoted and recognized as Florida's first premium
winemaker and viticulture pioneer.
Figure 18 20. Emil DuBois (Paisley, 1968) photo and sketch
Sadly, Emil DuBois' pioneering efforts in Tallahassee didn't prevail. Leon County voted dry in
1904 and without a wine market, he moved to New Jersey and later returned to France, where he
died. [Nevertheless, there is evidence that DuBois was in Tallahassee on August 28, 1906, by
his signature on a check (Figure 22).] There is some indication that these extensive plantings
were experiencing difficulty before DuBois left. Etienne Beroud, the brother of DuBois' son-in-
law, Marius Beroud (died in 1903), continued to manage the vineyard before it faded (Figure
21). Even before 1904, wine production in Leon County was decreasing, probably due to vine
decline. Despite this abrupt ending, around a century after DuBois left Florida, his dream is
being realized and his influence still felt.
Figure 21. Possibly DuBois' Vineyard in Figure 22. Check cashed by E. DuBois,
1906 (FlaStateArchives) 1906. Courtesy, Gary Cox.
At about the same time that DuBois was promoting viticulture near Tallahassee, other
progressive grape growers were active in East Florida near Gainesville, around the St. Johns
river south of Jacksonville and in the Orlando area (South Florida). The generalized distribution
of vineyards from 1870 to 1900 is well depicted in Figure 23 (Lewis, 1979). Note the
concentration of bunch grape cultivation around Tallahassee and Alachua County and the
Jacksonville Orlando Tampa Corridor, reflecting the more publicized activities in these
regions. Muscadine growers were more broadly dispersed, smaller, less vocal regarding their
activities, and addressed the local demand for grapes. [They were also more likely to be long
time, established Florida residents, in contrast to recent arrivals from the Northern U.S. or
Europe who did not yet appreciate muscadine grapes.]
Figure 23. Vineyard Locations 1870-1900 (Lewis, 1979, pg 630)
Developments around the Orlando area were spearheaded by Haynes, Young, and Bailey, who
had experience with 'White Niagara' in New York. They migrated from Rochester New York in
1885 and initiated a vineyard planted to 'Niagara' the following year (FlaDispatch 8(14)268
1888; Gore, 1891, Grapes pp. 39-45; FlaStateHortSoc 2: 28, 1889). Their success, where others
had failed, resulted in a 30 acre Niagara Villa vineyard and formation of the Niagara Vineyards
Company and the Orlando Grape and Fruit Company (Figures 24 & 25). Ink & Babcock
vineyard also came in and other local and northern interests resulted in around 500 grape acre
planted or planned (FlaDispatch 4(28)545 1892, FlaDispatch 4(29)565 1892; FlaGrower
Adjacent regions were also promoting grapes, or at least reflecting pride in the fact that grapes,
among other crops grew well in their respective area. The plug for Alachua County has frequent,
but general mention of grape suitability (Myers, 1882 pp 2, 6, 11-12). And grapes fair even better
in an Ocala publication calling for not only varieties from Spain and Italy, but transplanted
viticulturist and enologist to accompany the grapes (Neck, 1888).
An early text, "Florida Fruits and How to Grow Them" appeared (Harcourt, 1886). A chapter on
grapes dealt reasonably accurately with varieties and cultivation practices. 'Bullace' or Vitis
vulpine were cited as native and canopy management advice was provided, with labrusca
needing to be handled differently. Some labrusca and muscadine varieties were recommended,
and a promising future for raisins and wine was predicted. [Raisin production was soon
recognized as quite inappropriate for the rainy, humid Florida environment.]
In addition, a prominent winery almost came on the Orlando scene. Emil DuBois observed the
Orlando plantings and, although he didn't think much of northern labrusca for wine, was
confident enough to plan a winery. The idea was to use cull and late season fruit, since market
price dropped substantially once California and other regions harvest began. DuBois' partner
was C.G. Frasch, winter resident from New York, who had produced a notable Orange
Champagne (Gore, 1891 pg 45). What became of this planned wine venture is unknown, since
nothing more was heard. Both DuBois and Frasch were quite capable viticulturists/enologists,
so an Orlando winery would have been quite logical and potentially successful, even if they
had to resort to other fruit.
Frasch felt that the freeze of 1895 opened the door for grapes to replace citrus in North Florida
and promoted both muscadine and bunch grapes for wine. He suggested that Florida should
become the equivalent to Italy in grape and fruit growing. He also opined that "The temperance
cause would be largely advanced if a light wine became the national drink instead of whiskey."
(FlaAgriculturist 29(13)194, 1902) [Interesting observation Perhaps this approach could have
softened the absolute nature of prohibition several decades later.]
Figures 24 & 25. Niagara Villa Vineyard Orlando (Gore, 1891)
Grape presentations and articles during the last 2 decades of the 19th century were extremely
upbeat. L.E. Haynes, Garey, G.A. Wright, Mott all cited favorable experiences with certain
labrusca varieties in the Orlando area. The Niagara Villa was a Show Place that impressed
visitors and viticulturists (FlaDispatch 4(26)504, 1892). By this time other dedicated
viticulturists were likewise reporting their experiences. Most importantly, these presentations and
the discussions that followed led to the exchange of cultivation information and grape
germplasm among viticulturists. Words of caution were in the minority. W.C. Steele, a
nurseryman in Switzerland, FL, reminded participants that the laws of supply and demand
affected shipped fruit, using strawberries as an example. If grape growers expanded production
in anticipation of a lucrative northern market, economics would be sure to change. He also
cautioned that bunch grapes required more care and attention than muscadines (FlaDispatch
The 3rd Proceedings of the FSHS in 1890 contained quite a few grape articles and discussions. A
presentation titled "The Past and the Future of the Grape in Florida" by Rev. James H. White of
Island Home provided a useful summary of past grape activities. He mentioned that A.I. Bidwell
was growing bunch grapes near Jacksonville in 1867, followed by E.H. Mason who planting
several thousand vines in Duval County a few years later. White referred to George W.
Atwood's 1867 success near St. Augustine and cited the 1874 Florida Fruit Growers Convention
(FlaStateHortSoc 3:21-26, 1890).
White also brought up the Indian River Horticultural Society. The discussion then turned to
economic potential, wine and Florida opportunities. A cited quotation by Bidwell is worth noting
today. "The bunch grapes themselves are too valuable to make them into wine." One member,
Mann, "made an earnest prohibition protest against making the society a wine-making one.
(Applause and hisses in about equal measure.)" (FlaStateHortSoc 3:10-11, 1890).
A presentation on "Grapes in South Florida" by George A. Wright of Chuluota followed ibidd,
pp 21-27). He described land and vineyard preparation and vine planting and care. [Curiously,
Chuluota near Orlando would hardly be classified as South Florida today. Middle Florida was
the northern section around Leon County.] A few pages later, a note of skepticism (letter) was
interjected by Livingston, who apparently had little success growing grapes in Waldo. The
response by H. Von Luttichau of Earleton suggests strong differences of opinion between the
two and even involved DuBois ibidd pp 29-35) [a 19th century Blog?].
Baron Hans Von Luttichau came on the scene in 1887. This influential botanist created the
"Collins-Belvedere Azalea Gardens" in Earleton and introduced Formosa azaleas to Florida. He
was the son-in-law of General Elias B. Earle, founder of Earleton, about 12 miles west of
Gainesville (See in:
It is unclear from where in Germany or his title of Baron came from, but Luttichau played a
very active and vocal role in Central Florida grape developments, as a participating member of
the FSHS Committee on Grapes and contributor to the Florida State Horticultural Society
Proceedings and Florida Dispatch. Von Luttichau planted his first vines in 1880 (FlaDispatch
1(19)243-45, 1889), experimented extensively with labrusca, researched the northern markets,
but was only guardedly optimistic regarding vinifera ("Foreign grapes", as he called them). In
subsequent proceedings he liberally offered his insights into all aspects of grape breeding,
cultivation, and marketing.
However, by 1893, Von Luttichau had a distinctly negative opinion of northern market potential
and later led off a grape discussion in 1896 by stating, "I had to give up grapes: they did not pay
me well." (FlaStateHortSoc 9:67-69, 1896). Despite these comments, he didn't drop grapes
completely. Von Luttichau was the 1900 and 1904 FSHS grape representative and in 1901 he
reported on the Grape Experiment Station set up on his Earleton property in cooperation with the
Department of Agriculture, Division of Pomology. The main focus was on a careful evaluation
of numerous V. vinifera grown on native rootstock. The USDA representative was George C.
Husmann, son of George Husmann, the noted viticulturist, enologist, and author.
G.C Husmann, as representative of the USDA, was cooperating with (certainly providing stock,
encouraging and advising) Von Luttichau in the operation of the Government Viticultural
Experiment Station at Earleton. This is a good example of private industry government joint
research. It preceded the establishment of the University of Florida and the Agricultural
Experiment Station in nearby Gainesville by over a decade. By his 5th year, certain varieties were
doing quite well and Von Luttichau was preparing to release some for dooryard use, although
not for large scale planting. He noted some vine decline after the fifth year, but attributed it to
location and improper vine management. After this 1904 report there was no further mention of
Von Luttichau, or the experimental vineyard cited in FSHS proceedings, except indirectly in
The FSHS Proceedings listed a Catalogue of Fruits annually from 1895 to 1907 and included
grapes. Species mentioned were labrusca, aestivalis, and rotundafolia. Curiously 'Cynthiana' and
'Norton' were listed as separate varieties, both recommended for wine. [They are the same
grape.] Vinifera (European) varieties were cited as an "entire failure" in 1895 (FlaStateHortSoc
8:XIII-XIV, 1895). However, in 1907 citing Luttichau's experimental planting of 550 vines of
175 varieties on riparia or rupestris rootstock, the vinifera were deemed, "so far are remarkably
successful" (FlaStateHortSoc 20:XIII-XIV, 1907).
It would be of interest to describe the grape input of the other gentlemen participating in grape
developments at this time. Most seemed articulate and knowledgeable viticulturists, but the
records of their contributions and accomplishments are less well known than DuBois' and Von
Luttichau's. There are bits and pieces of information regarding some of these grape pioneers in
the various accumulated reports, so we can infer in a general way their contributions and, to a
lesser extend their backgrounds and contributions as part of the first sustained Florida Grape
A good many of those horticulturists mentioned were nurserymen involved in citrus and a
number of fruits besides grapes. The ads suggest the scope of their businesses; Figure 26
(FlaDispatch 7(33)688-9, 1887) illustrates their wares. Note the names associated with these
businesses, they come up continually in noted reports and conversations.
Figure 26. Typical Nursery Ads circa 1885-87
Now we'll digress. The last three decades of the 19th Century saw dramatic grape developments
all over the nation. In 1870 T.V. Munson (Figure 27) initiated his epic career leading up to the
Munson Hybrids. By 1883, George Husmann, of the Talcoa Vineyards in Napa Valley,
California (Pinney, 1989 pg 346 +) had published the second edition of his landmark book,
"American Grape Growing and Wine Making: i ith Several Added Chapters on the Grape
Industries of California" (Husmann, 1883). G. Husmann, came out of the Herman, Missouri
German wine tradition. He wrote the first publication on winegrowing, Grape Culturist, was
involved in viticulture and enology practices as a winery principle, founded the Mississippi
Valley Grape Growers Association. He was also quite instrumental in supplying phylloxera-
resistant rootstock to France, thus saving the French wine industry. Husmann ultimately brought
his experience and talent to California, where he battled phylloxera and contributed significantly
to the burgeoning grape industry. His page 78 note on our old standby, the Muscadine, bears
Figure 27. T.V. Munson (Munson, 1907 preface)
Figure 28. George Husmann's opinion of muscadines. (Husmann, 1883 pg 78)
Hussmann's vinifera chauvinism didn't extend to his son, George W. Husmann, a prominent
viticulturist in his own right who, as a scientist with the USDA, played a key role throughout the
U.S. by systematically evaluating the grape potential of various regions, including Florida. He
was instrumental in Baron H. Von Luttichau's Earleton experimental vineyard and spearheaded
the U.S. Agricultural Department's long term research commitment to grapes nationwide.
The initial demise of grapes is evident from the attention paid the crop in the FSHS Proceedings
(Table 1). In 1899 the Standing Committee on Grapes was combined with figs and kaki
(Japanese persimmons), still with a prominent grape spokesman represented. As early as 1894
problems were surfacing and a mix of good and bad experiences cited (FlaStateHortSoc 7:25-34,
1894). Poor condition of fruit and shipping problems were blamed. Lyman Phelps, Orlando with
viticulture experience in central New York tried growing in Orange County, but after 4 years he
lost money, saw the light [darkness?] early, and got out of grapes. By the 20th meeting in 1907,
the Standing Committee no longer mentioned grapes, although there was a report from the grape,
fig, kaki committee. P.J. Whister spoke on vine decline and urged a breeding focus on wild
species. W.C. Steele commented on unfavorable shipping rates (FlaStateHortSoc 20:27-34,
Then from 1908 until 1920 "the FSHS line went dead", except for F.P Henderson's 1910
observation that past varieties and cultivation errors were problems amenable to solution
(Henderson, 1910). Nevertheless, grapes received some attention as reflected in sporadic Florida
Grower reports from the first volume in 1911 up to present issues.
The downfall of grapes in Welaka might have been not been solely due to vine decline, as the
following narrative suggests (Reeder, 1976 pg. 13):
"Madame De Breast of France had a grape vineyard northeast of town. She made wine and shipped it to
Jacksonville. In the early days, some of the people made their living from huge grape vineyards, often
consisting of forty or fifty acres. Wine was made from these grapes and sold and nearly all of the fine
homes had wine cellars."
"The "Big Freeze" in 1895 came, killing overnight the grape vines, orange groves, even the swamps were
frozen. Entire families moved away, leaving their homes and everything they had in them. The forgotten
homes soon decayed and fell."
Wine was a popular home and business pursuit, spearheaded (at least in Welaka) by another
French compatriot, Madame De Breast. Thus, although DuBois was the predominant grape
grower and wine producer in state and some distance from the east coast, the folks in East
Florida didn't lack for grape euphoria or wine made from local grapes. Apparently, government
control of wine was far from strict, so distribution, sales, and consumption were prevalent. Local
grapes were put to good use, but not indefinitely. It's unusual that the cited freeze that would
surely have decimated the maturing citrus crop, would have affected dormant grape vines so
In any case, if the "Big Freeze" of 1895 didn't do it, the even worst one in 1899 certainly put a
stop to semi-tropicals in Putnam County. Still, barring spring freezes of budding vines, grapes
throughout Florida are surprisingly hardy. Grapes did quite well in the December 1989 freeze.
This was the worst of the 20th century and pushed the Citrus Belt further south. In fact, in the last
third of the 20th Century even before 1989, it is almost inconceivable that tropical fruits could
have survived, let alone flourish near Jacksonville.
Extrapolating from the recorded experiences, thoughtful discussions, insight from early growers,
and, of course, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear what went wrong. Growers, for the most
part had dismal experience with vinifera. The more adapted labrusca did better, especially on
native rootstock. Growers were experimenting with a number of vine management systems, in
various soils, overcoming or at least handling many insect and disease threats. They were
juggling a lot of variables, combining trial and error, gradually moving to a more systematic
When initially successful plantings failed, viticulturists or interested observers could point to one
or more contributing factors, often reflecting, for better or worse on the viticulture skills of the
grower. Just about the time that the influence of one major grape cultivation variable variety,
rootstock, soil, location, insect attack, disease occurrence, etc. was reasonably understood or at
least felt amenable to control, something else cropped up to complicate the viticulture scene.
Stoner (1952) provides useful insights into grape disease epidemiology and explains why even
experienced horticulturists were confused by this mysterious vine decline.
Nature bats last, and the yet unrecognized Pierce's disease (PD) bacterium, Xylellafastidiosa and
its vector, Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (Figure 29). Xylellafastidiosa.progresses slowly but
almost inevitably (Adlerz and Hopkins, 1977, 1979, and 1981a, b; Adlerz, 1980). The modifying
term is "almost", because the sharpshooter vector for PD was not too prevalent in marine
environments. Hence, susceptible vine on the Keys and barrier islands lasted longer (Mortensen
and Knight, 1967). Even recently, isolated plantings of less rugged, PD susceptible grape
varieties/species may survive inland for some time, giving rise to the assumption of vigor.
Eventually Nature catches up and these vines decline, to the dismay of the optimistic viticulturist
Figure 29. The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (Univ. California, Riverside, 2008)
Ultimately, even the more progressive, technically skilled viticulturists, cognizant of the
challenges of the Florida environment, saw their vines decline. Many were nurserymen with a
firm business commitment; they could and did emphasize other horticulture crops that fared
better than grapes. Citrus, of course, was dominant, although freezes punctured North Florida
optimism in 1895-6 and for good in 1899. In contrast to the struggling bunch grape species,
rotundifolia and native species were thriving. Nevertheless, disappointed viticulturists didn't take
the next logical step which might have saved the industry switching to PD resistant muscadine
varieties, but vinifera chauvinism (to be mentioned later) prevailed.
H.T. Fisher, FGGA President 1922-25, provided an insightful review of the rise and fall of
grape growing in this period (Fisher, 1924). Later, an excellent description of the psychology
behind these grape expectations is given in "Cultural Conservatism and Pioneer Florida
Viticulture" (Lewis, 1979). However, we would certainly qualify the author's theme, which she
presents quite cogently. That is: Immigrants to Florida from other regions brought their culture
with them (in this case, homeland viticulture practices) and maintained them until forced to adapt
to the new environment. This was possibly the case with inexperienced grape growers or those
influenced by fly-by-night realtors. In contrast, serious viticulturists with homeland experience
were well aware of climatic differences facing them in Florida. Although they led with the
vinifera and/or labrusca from their native areas, they soon modified strategies by introducing
wild rootstock and native germplasm and carefully screening varieties for adaptability.
Also, those grower who committed large acreage in anticipation of the northern market were
faced with high shipping rates, irregular transport of a highly perishable crop (mechanical
refrigeration had not yet arrived), and unscrupulous buyers, which made early efforts a money
losing proposition (FlaStateHortSoc 7:25-34, 1894). The logistics of coordinating harvest,
packing, transport, etc. are challenges even for experienced grape producers today. It is possible
that with a better marketing system and distribution infrastructure the debacle could have been
avoided, or at least slowed down. What if these early shippers had adequate profits to direct
research into variety improvement, even renewing vineyards, or switching to muscadine
varieties? Access to the more hardy Munson hybrids was just beginning, and the science of
agriculture progressing rapidly.
After reading the reports and following the efforts of these pioneers, we have a much greater
respect for what they accomplished. Aside from the euphoria and hype generated by rank
amateur growers and real estate interests, serious growers fought back. They could and did
respond fairly effectively to unforeseen challenges such as phylloxera and Florida-unique pest,
insect, and disease problems. Actually, the better selections thrived and bore crops that exceeded
expectations. The unseen enemy which eventually caught up with even the most astute grower,
including more knowledgeable viticulturists three decades later (who had the benefit of the more
adaptable Munson hybrids) was Pierce's Disease and its helpful vector, the sharpshooter. It
wasn't until the 1950s that the epidemiology of PD infection was understood. Even today
apparent resistant vines can last a number of years in isolation, but woe be the grape grower who
expands plantings without PD trials or without listening to the voices of experience.
By about 1910, the naysayers were proved right. So, what did these very early grape pioneers
accomplish? Quite a lot Perusal of the cultivation practices at the time show that many were
sound, and growers amazingly prescient. Attempts to reach the early season northern markets
were nominally successful. Rail transport systems were evolving, quality control was
emphasized, and economic studies developed. Arguably, the developments of the 1920s and the
momentum of the 1950s would not have occurred or been substantially diminished had it not
been for these viticulturist and enologists pioneers who labored in Florida from 1565 to about
I. THE SECOND GRAPE BOOM- Realists, Optimists, and Scientists
Shortly after the turn of the century FSHS emphasis devoted to grapes faded along with the
progression of vine decline. A few general grape articles were noted in the early issues of the
Florida Fruit andProduce News (Later called the Florida Grower). These were answers to
questions and pertained mostly to muscadines. Grape interest in state was resurrected about two
decades after the first decline, thanks to the availability of the Munson hybrids promoted by
F.J. Zimmerman as early as 1913 (FlaGrower 9(3)4 Oct 18, 1913). A new generation of
inspired viticulturists came on the Florida scene a few years later.
Grapes again surfaced in the FSHS Proceedings in 1920 with a key presentation by Charles
Hearing, USDA Washington, DC. In "Muscadine Grape and Grape Products", he provided a
very comprehensive overview of the USDA Muscadine Grape Project, commenting on his
research with muscadines 11 years earlier around Ocala, New Smyrna, and Glen St. Mary
(Dearing, 1920). The Ronnoc grove vineyard was still yielding practical results after 20 years
(Rhoads, 1926 p.76). The aim of the USDA Bureau of Plant Industries was to develop a fruit
industry in Southeast states, in cooperation with other Agriculture entities State, Industrial, and
Educational. This consisted of Production Investigations (Dearing's paper) and Muscadine
Grape Utilization Investigations, the subject of a following paper (Partridge, 1920). Considerable
discussions regarding propagation and varieties followed Dearing's talk. [Although not
mentioned, George C. Husmann was probably a prime mover in these USDA efforts, since he
was still active and referred to later in the 1920s.]
Despite Dearing's plug for attention to muscadines and the experiences of many decades
attesting to their greater ruggedness and ease of cultivation, bunch grapes were seen as the wave
of the future. Leading this surge were growers in Central Florida. The Zimmerman brothers F.J.
and E.L. of Oldsmar, having worked with the Munsons in Texas, were familiar with the
characteristic of those hybrids. Consequently, they introduced some of the preferred selections to
Florida and described their durability and quality after eight years of observation (Zimmerman,
1920). Other growers demonstrated impressive result and the second Grape Boom was on.
Figure 30. The Sylvester Vineyard, Lakeland. (FlaGrower 27(23)6, 1923)
Figure 31 & 32. Mathison's (or Mathewson's) Vineyard, DeFuniak Springs, July 1926.
(FlaStateArchives). [Mathison was elsewhere identified as the Walton County Agriculture
(Extension) Agent, so that's probably the spelling.]
Several years later Dearing again recommended muscadines and cautioned about lack of long
term Florida experience with even the better hybrids (Dearing, 1922). However, other opinions
favored select Munson hybrids, so bunch grapes prevailed (Lord, 1922; Fisher, 1922). By this
time, the Florida Ag Station was accumulating information on improved grape disease control
and cultivation practices. So with the benefit of Munson's research and growers' enthusiasm,
bunch grape acreage again exploded around Orlando. Grape progress in the 1920s was based on
a more sound technical understanding of and experience with Florida viticulture, as reflected in
technical and vineyard articles in the FSHS Proceeding more sound, but not infallible.
This grape boom was accompanied by a lot more publicity and more aggressive advertising
Figure 33. Compare the ads with those of the late 1800s- Figure 15 & 16.
Figure 33. Grape /Land Promotional Ads. (Primarily Zimmerman Bros. Ads -1923-24 )
Following Zimmerman's lead several progressive growers- George Burnham and the
Sylvesters in Lakeland; Paul Hawkins, Eustis; E.E. Truskett, Mt. Dora; H.T. Fisher, Eustis
initiated vineyards (FlaGrower 34(5)5,10 1926). Their success led to talk about shipping carload
lots for the Northern market. This was achieved before or on July 1926, when Demko Bros.,
Altoona shipped a well publicized lot (Figure 34). [Was this the first shipment or simply a
Figure 34. 1926 July Demko Ad- Altoona Station Atlantic Coast Line.
More followed, as the Dickson-Truskett vineyards, Montverde and the Stover & MacKenzie
vineyards, Lady Lake and Fruitland Park, were supplying grapes to a packing house cooperative
in Montverde. The Panhandle growers were also expanding and shipping to the Chicago and
New York areas (Truskett, 1929). The Montverde region cooperative developed marketing
standards and even provided ice packing for grapes headed long distances by rail (Figures 34, 35,
Figures 35. Florida Commercial Grape Operations circa 1926. (FlaStateArchives)
Figure 36. Grape Packing, Montverde -1927. (FlaStateArchives)
Along with increasing grape production to meet existing or anticipated market demands, the
more progressive growers were diligently conducting research to improve upon existing
varieties. In their experimental vineyards W.A. MacKenzie of Leesburg and Col. W. J. Stover
of Fruitland Park in 1924 started comprehensive studies of most grapes known in America in
order to find varieties appropriate for Florida. Shortly thereafter Dr. Charles Demko initiated
similar endeavors in Altoona, along with vigorously pursuing the commercial market. (Truskett
in Williams, 1988).
This enthusiasm was evident from Pensacola to the Keys, as many Counties provided glowing
reports from growers, county agents, and/or chambers of commerce (Figures 37-40). Although
not as well reported as in Central Florida, where the FSHS, and later the FGGA served as focal
points for grape interests, similar developments were underway in the Panhandle, with reference
to a potential fresh grape demand in Birmingham (FlaTimesUnion 58 Augl2 Pg.4 1924) By
1929 it was reported that Bay County's Seminole Plantation shipped 8 carloads of grapes,
equivalent to about 45,000 gallons of juice (FlaTimesUnion 64 Augl9 Pg.3 1929). Individuals
active in West Florida were not identified and it is unlikely that they actively participated in the
FGGA. Nevertheless, they were closer to the Central U.S. market, and after 10 years of
Prohibition, there were a lot of very thirsty mid westerners to whom early season Florida grapes
would have been quite welcome.
Figure 37. Grape Activities, plantings or promotional in Florida Counties 1920-29
(FlaStateArchinves)(L to R Bay County harvest; Ockaloosa County new planting; Taylor
County promotion; 'Carmen' vines, Oldsmar; Gamble's farm, Medart; Razier vineyard, Milton)
Grape activities resurfaced again in Putnam County, as in the 1890s before "The Big Freeze" of
1885 (Michaels, 1986) with the initiation of a Grape Growing Club in the 1920s. The Club had
ordered over 30,000 'Florida Beacon' for planting (FlaTimesUnion 64 Jan27 Pg.6 1929). The
idea was for club members to systematically follow plantings in 25 vineyards, collect data, and
plan to eventually join the FGGA. [This would have been the first County Chapter, had it
occurred.] W.J Stover, a respected viticulturist in Fruitland Park, commended these efforts and
found growth to be impressive (FlaTimesUnion 64 Apr7 Pg.6 1929; NewsClip
PomonaGrapeClub 3-22 1928).
By 1930, there were well over 3,000 (some say -5,000) acres of grapes planted or bearing in
state, primarily the Munson hybrids 'Beacon' and Carmen', with some 'Florida Beacon' and
'Csaba' (A Hungarian grape on 'Beacon' rootstock) available. [There was some confusion
regarding variety naming. 'Florida Beacon' was later found to be Munson's 'Extra' and not his
'Beacon'. The 'Carmen' variety designation was also questionable. DeVries stated that the
variety was named by Munson to honor a contributing New York horticulturist, Prof Carmen.
In contrast, a New York labrusca variety was developed and named 'Carman' far less hardy
and Florida-adaptable than Munson's 'Carmen' (FlaGrower 18(18)18-19, 1918). Later, the
opposite opinion was also given by Mrs. Slyvester, citing Munson's friend as E.S. Carman,
Editor of the Rural New Yorker and a prominent horticulturist (FlaGrower 27(23)6-7, 1923).
[We'll side with Slyvester, and it was definitely the Texas hybrid, not the New York variety.]
Concurrently, land development companies were getting into the act, selling land, much in areas
or topography completely unsuitable for grapes to outsiders, some with no clue on grape
cultivation or agricultural experience, just wild hopes and cash. The flames of Grape Euphoria
were fed and fanned by prominent ads in the Florida Grower. Figure 33 shows some from the
1923-26 issues. The aggressive sales thrust was in contrast to ads in Florida Dispatch 40 years
earlier (Figures 15 & 16) that advertised vines. The mid 20s ads inferred, even guaranteed easy
riches with little effort. In hindsight, these "Get rich quick" inducements certainly went too far
and didn't enhance the image of Florida grapes or Florida land. Even an individual with national
stature, Roger Babson was cited as an inducement (FlaGrower 29(15)23, 1924). [This renowned
economist was credited as predicting the crash of 1929, but not the accompanying Florida Grape
It is not surprising that with all the emphasis on grape cultivation and utilization there was no
mention of wine. Prohibition was in full swing, so wine was certainly a "politically incorrect"
topic, more so than a generation earlier when grape proponents had mixed emotions regarding
wine making and consumption. Nevertheless, the major focus of efforts to establish fresh grape
markets in the north was to satisfy the demand for juice not necessarily as "unfermented wine".
This is a curious designation, talking around the obvious; grape juice is highly perishable. If not
carefully processed and packaged, juice is one small, simple, almost inevitable step from wine,
albeit rather mediocre unless carried out by skilled practitioners. The strong demand for early
season grapes in the north was certainly not driven by an unquenchable thirst for grape juice.
As commercial activities increased, so did the supporting research from both the Federal
(USDA) and state (Florida Agricultural Experiment Station) and private growers. In this
complementary effort, the USDA and University emphasized insect and disease control and
growers expanded variety improvement through breeding work, although there was much
overlap and exchange of information among and between involved parties (Figures 38 & 39).
Central in these efforts were the vineyards mentioned above. Despite substantial research support
those state and federal agencies, horticultural scientists were at best guardedly optimistic, or less.
Hearing favored muscadines [and was chastized for his opinion], Rhoads cautioned that the
ideal variety was yet to be found, and Lord was concerned that growers were moving too fast
(Lord, 1931). They were right.
Figure 38. Experimental Vineyard University of Florida, Gainesville -1923 and Wiersdale,
1926 [UF, USDA, or private?].
Figure 39. Vineyard assistance from UF Baker County Agent J.S. Johns shown [Titled "grape
field", but where are the grapes?]
The unexpected vine decline (Pierce's disease) was not as precipitous as 3 decades before, and
possibly could have been ameliorated by frequent replanting and control of other disease and
insect stress. However, there were additional barriers in place. These were: (1) Expense Grape
growing in Florida is considerably more costly than in most other environs. (2) Transportation -
Rail transportation efficiencies improved California and Texas competitive advantage. (3) The
development of 'Thompson Seedless' dramatically decreased the demand for seeded grapes. (4)
The repeal of Prohibition made legal wine buyers out of countless clandestine wine makers.
P.H. Rolfs in his insightful overview of Florida Agriculture (Rolfs, 1935 pg142) added another
issue that we must deal with today "Table grapes have been marketed from Miami to
Pensacola, but the vines and grapes have need of so much coddling that other lines of endeavor
have been more attractive." That was putting it mildly, especially before Pierce's Disease was
recognized as the principle villian.
There is an eerie similarity between the grape bust of the early 1900s and that of the 1930s. In
both cases many people, both farmers with respectable horticulture credentials and less
experienced novices were committing to grapes full speed ahead, despite words of caution
from professional horticulturists and some experienced growers who continued to favor the
hardier muscadine varieties. Enthusiasts were dealing with somewhat more rugged bunch grape
stock (Munson hybrids) and had the benefit of substantial research backstopping. The hardy
vines provided copious yields of attractive bunches and the vineyards appeared as prolific as any
in California [Note the luxuriant growth in vine photos.]. The rail transportation problems had
largely been solved, and the increasing northern and local populace demanded grapes early and
lots. But, as emphasized, Nature bats last and Pierce's disease, spread by the leafhopper vector
was far from remission, only slow adapting to these more hardy, yet still susceptible varieties.
The bubble was burst, or at least started to deflate rapidly in 1929 when the very promising fresh
market was derailed by the finding of USDA investigators that grapes are susceptible to
Mediterranean fruit fly infestation; this necessitated a fresh fruit shipping quarantine (FlaGrower
37(7)13, 1929). The Demkos responded rapidly by obtaining processing facilities and turning to
grape juice. Other growers in the Central Florida affected area did likewise and hoped to dovetail
with the citrus processing industry (FlaGrower 38(6)5-6,20-21, 1930). Unfortunately, although
the concept of complementary harvest seasons is attractive, the processing logistics couldn't be
put in place and a more serious problem faced growers.
The inevitable vine decline that doomed grapes 3 decades earlier was neither as rapid nor severe
with the Munson hybrids, but it did occur. As late as 1930, 600 tons were shipped from Lake
County (FlaGrower 38(11)30, 1930), but this represented only a small fraction of the cited 2,000
bearing grape acreage. [At a low yield of 2 tons/acre, that's only 300 acres.] Concurrently, the
Northern market weakened, as competition from other Southern states and California, all with
lower production costs, ramped up.
The Great Depression, originating in 1929, certainly didn't help, nor did the end of prohibition in
1933. Without doubt a substantial amount of the grapes shipped north from Florida and other
producing regions found their way to buyers native and recent immigrants with enology skills
and wine consuming traditions. This unquenchable thirst was not for "unfermented wine", aka
grape juice. Florida's early season advantage continued, but much of the incentive for American
"Beaujolais" (first fresh and newest wine of the season) was trumped by national and
international access to traditional wine markets.
Thus, the vast grape acreage and accompanying euphoria faded around the mid 1930's. Although
local sales were promising (FlaGrower 45(12)8, 1937), the required volume was nowhere near
the optimistic forecasts of a decade earlier. Unfortunately, thousands of acres again disappeared,
along with the investment and hopes of many growers (and the wild dreams of duped investors).
As previously, there was a bright side that is reflected in the status of the Florida grape industry
today. An optimistic article appeared in 1934 (Lake County Citizen, 1934) and even as late as
1938 there were some positive articles (FlaGrower 45(12)8, 1937; FlaGrower 46(7)6,13 Jul and
46(8)7,13 Aug 1938) and focused breeding efforts in South Florida emphasizing native stock
The grape growers of the 1920s and 30s were versatile agriculturists. When grapes yielded
disappointing results, many turned to citrus, watermelons, or other crops. Florida's early season
advantage also holds for winter vegetables, without viticulture's complexities appreciable
capital investment and production lag time. Some growers persisted with grapes, and that was a
good thing. In that pursuit they initiated and were part of an essential organization. That was the
FGGA, the most important and enduring legacy of the 1920s.
Figure 40. Grape Optimism of the late 1930s (FlaStateArchives, 1938) [According to the
photo caption, "Grapes Yield Abundantly in Central and West Florida and Find Ready Market"]
IV. FOUNDING OF THE FLORIDA GRAPE GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Unfortunately, there is much more background information available on grapes in Florida from
the Civil War up to the present than there is on the details of the FGGA from 1920s to about
1970. FGGA documents and articles with details of the FGGA foundation and the early years
were carefully collected, stored in Gainesville, but sadly discarded, several years prior to the
decision to prepare this article. Some of this earliest material is now derived and extrapolated
from journals, grape reports, and news articles. The search is continuing, but it will involve
laborious perusal in periodical archives, located throughout the former grape producing counties
[and the cooperation and involvement of Florida grape history aficionados].
The best source of all, FGGA Newsletter, proceedings, and minutes from annual and semi-
annual meetings from time zero through most of the 1980s, were either discarded in Gainesville,
or were never collected. [For the purpose of the historical record time zero is taken from the
1870s.] We're filling in the blanks, as acquired information permits. If these blanks exist, they
are probably stored with the possessions of former FGGA members or descendents.
Nevertheless, information is being accumulated and we have lots to work with.
Let's trace the origin of the FGGA. In the older literature there is frequent mention of the need
for an association devoted to grapes. The Florida Fruit Growers Association's 3rd Annual
Meeting Proceedings is described in a Florida Dispatch article (FlaDispatch 2(36)1, 1878), along
with their Constitution and Bylaws. The presiding Chair was A.I. Bidwell of Jacksonville. (The
President was C. Codrington and committee members ranged from Tallahassee to Jacksonville,
down to Tampa.) According to the narrative, the Association first met in January 1875 and the
initial President, C.H. DuPont, died before the 3rd meeting. The focus was on organizational
matters and more attention was given to oranges and northern markets, but grapes were on the
agenda. Dr. Kenworthy reported on grape cultivation and disease with comments from Bidwell,
Reid, White, and Barnett. Dr. Kenworthy and Judge White (not J.H. White of Island Home)
were charged to report on grapes at the next meeting, scheduled for Gainesville, April 8-10,
1875. [The University of Florida was just an unfunded legislative idea. Also, 1875 was well
before its 1887 founding in Lake City.] None of these individuals were mentioned in subsequent
available Dispatch articles or FSHS Proceedings. The Dispatch was listed as the official organ of
the Florida Fruit Growers Association and its officers were listed in the 1888 Dispatch.
There was serious attention paid to grapes even earlier. Scuppernongs (the generic designation
for bronze muscadines) were frequently mentioned and a nursery in Valdosta, Georgia advertised
scuppernong rootlets "recommended for any region of Florida" (FlaDispatch 2(15)4, 1877;
Figure 6). Muscadines were noted in early American history (USDA, 2007) and North Carolina
seems to have the earliest established muscadine tradition, dating from 1810
(http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/muscadinegrape.html). [NC expertise benefitted Florida almost 170
years later (Nesbitt et. al., 1976; Mortensen et. al.,1976.]
Prompted by the development of rail lines (Figure 7), Agricultural Associations were cropping
up all over North Florida, An 1878 issue listed eight Florida Agricultural Societies and by 1882
there were 28 listed (Table 2). These organizations were promoting the agricultural interests of
their respective locales; in one, viticulture was on the agenda. The Indian River Agricultural and
Pomological Society met at Rev. J.H. White's Merritt's Island vineyard to view his grapes and
pineapple and form a committee on grapes in 1879 (FlaDispatch 4(10)2, 1879). A Grape
Committee did exist as part of the Florida Fruit Growers Association, and was mentioned in an
1887 article (FlaDispatch 7(17)358-9, 1887). Presumably, this committee was retained when the
FSHS was formed the following year, but these groups were only committees and part of other
associations with a much broader horticultural focus than just grapes.
Table 2. Florida and Neighboring Agricultural Associations 1882 (FlaDispatch 1(3)11, 1882)
Florida Fruit Growers Association (Jacksonville, the Dispatch is its official journal)
Florida State Grange (Statewide)
State Park Association (Jacksonville)
Orange Park Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (Orlando)
Lake George Fruit Growers Association (Georgetown)
Picolata Agricultural and Horticultural Society
Micanopy Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Tropical Fruit Growers Association of Monroe County
Levy County Immigration Society
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Association (Jacksonville)
Pinellas, Florida Fruit Grower's Association
Bronson Agricultural Union
Central Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (Arredonda)
Evergreen Horticultural Society (Dunedin)
Decatur County Fair Association (Georgia)
Lake Weir Agricultural and Pomological Society
Welaka Horticultural Society
Southwest Georgia Industrial Association
Sumter County Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association
Florida Central Agricultural Society (Gainesville)
Archer Agricultural Association
Middle Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Association (Tallahassee)
Indian River Agricultural and Pomological Society
Madison County Agricultural and Mechanical Fair Association
Orange County Fair Association
Albion Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association
Gadsden County Fair Association
South Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical Association
[The Florida State Horticultural Society, founded in 1888 served to provide a statewide focus
for many of these local horticultural interests, which then faded from the scene. Also, improved
transportation and communication facilitated a broader FSHS membership and attendance base.]
In fact, participants active in viticulture around that time were either nurserymen with an interest
in a number of fruit crops or hobbyists, some of whom later evolved into commercial growers.
Many were recent migrants from the North or Europe with some viticulture experience. It was
the Nurserymen's Association that combined with the Florida Fruit Growers Association to form
the Florida State Horticultural Society (FSHS), probably because of increased interest by the
membership in fruits, especially citrus and including grapes. The literature and ads indicate some
were both nursery owners, fruit growers and shippers (Figure 15 & 16, Grape-related ads of the
After the 1888 formation of the FSHS, in 1892 G.H. Wright mentioned the formation of a
Grape Growers Association in Orange County, representing over 350 acres, where 6 years
previously there hadn't been a single acre (FlaStateHortSoc 5:31, 1892). The vineyard of P.P.
Ink, Secretary of this Orange County Grape Growers Association (OCGGA) was described
(FlaDispatch 4(28)545, 1892). The following year The OCGGA met with representatives from
New York Grape Commission (J.R. Travis) and Southern Express (C.L. Myers) to discuss
handling and shipping of early season grapes (FlaDispatch 5(4)72, 1893). Presumably the
OCGGA was actively involved in establishing that elusive northern market for Florida grapes, an
endeavor that was to take on new meaning about 30 years later. No details were given and there
were no subsequent references to that group. None of the 28 Agricultural Organizations listed by
the Florida Dispatch were devoted exclusively to grapes (Table 2), although there were later
discussions citing the need for such an organization in Florida when J. Leahman made such a
proposal (FlaDispatch 7(16)338, 1887).
Then it happened the Florida Grape Growers Association was formed. But the record is as
fuzzy as the cited precedents. Truskett complicates the origin by stating a 1921 meeting of the
"....newly formed Grape Growers Association in Oldsmar the fall of that year..." (Truskett in
History of Lake County, Florida, p 124). The origin date gets even murkier in a November 11,
1921 Florida Times Union article (FlaTimesUnion 56 Novll Pg.11 1921). The "Best meeting in
history" of the FGGA is described with W.E. Bolles, Oldsmar identified as President and 104
members in attendance. Also present and participating were the same individuals associated with
subsequent FGGA meetings, including the 1922 President, H.T. Fisher. A related article by
Bolles, with photo, cited the FGGA formation in Lakeland and the recent 2nd meeting in Tampa
attended by 65 interested growers (FlaGrower 23(22)6, 1921). A confounding article the
following year (FlaTimesUnion 57 Novl7 Pg.4 1922) cited the "sixth annual meeting" with H.T.
Fisher as president, F.J. Zimmermann as secretary, and about 100 members attending. In these
pre 1923 articles the organization was reported interchangeably as "state grape growers
association", "grape growers association", or "Florida grape growers association", but certainly
focused only on grapes, a clear indication that the FGGA existed perhaps as early as 1916 and
had over 100 members by 1921.
Some of the same people were mentioned in the newspaper articles and Truskett's narrative
(Truskett in Kennedy, 1988). What happened to W.E. Bolles? Was there a coupe, disagreement,
dissolution? Surely, a viable organization with -100 members didn't just disappear without an
explanation. The only clarifier is Truskett's use of the term "newly organized". At any rate, the
FGGA was incorporated in 1923 and that's the date on the Association's emblem (Figure 41).
Most members had vineyards in the Central Florida area. Col. Hiram T. Fischer of Eustis, who
attended the earlier 1921 meeting, was president by 1922. He was identified as the first FGGA
President for 1923-24, followed by E. L. Lord, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station at
Gainesville, who held the position for 12 years. He was probably the most visible UF grape
expert for several decades, as his cogent summary of viticulture research suggests (Lord, 1939).
Figure 41. Florida Grape Growers Association Emblem
B. FGGA Presidents
Table 3 shows the evolution of the FGGA, initiators or principles/presidents, and their term of
office, using the older information. In some cases the details available are limited or even
contradictory. We'd like to devote some attention to each of these individuals, albeit with gaps
where the written records are shallow. Unfortunately, some remain just a name with little or no
description regarding their background, contributions, or personal history, except that before,
during, and after their Presidential tenure they and their anonymous colleagues other FGGA
officers and members kept the Association viable.
The most important elected position in an association such as FGGA is the President. That
individual has the leadership role which to a large extent defines the direction, vitality, even
survival of the organization. The President is assisted by and clearly dependant upon other
elected officers such as spelled out in an old set of By-Laws (FGGA, 1977) or the newest
revision (http://fgga.org/fggabylaws.html). In large associations continuity is provided by an
executive administrator perhaps a full time, paid position, depending on the society.
Although effectiveness depends upon an active, responsive membership and capable elected
officers, the president sets the tempo and is ultimately responsible to the electorate for the
success and vitality of the organization. Consider the many activities which must be orchestrated
- membership recruitment and retention; newsletter; website (comparatively new but of growing
importance); annual conference, regional, national, and other meetings; social functions;
delegated interactions with other organizations; industry and government liaison, to name a few.
These duties add up to a full time job for a volunteer, likely with other undiminished personal
and professional responsibilities.
The President must also be politically savvy and diplomatically handle inevitable differences in
opinion and conflict between and among members and outside interests. Is the term "herding
cats" pertinent? What are the rewards? Perhaps the respect and goodwill of colleagues and some
citation after years of service are earned. Most important a well recognized and respected
association that fulfills the needs and aspirations of members and the industry they represent.
From the available record, at least 24 persons held the position of FGGA President. If they and
other elected officers worked as diligently and effectively as those we personally knew over the
past half century. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. Let's not take them or those who will
follow for granted! In addition present and future presidents merit encouragement and support
from the entire Florida Grape Community.
Evolution of the Florida Grape Growers Association
President or Date Remarks
A.I. Bidwell 1878- 3rd meeting of Florida Fruit Growers Association- Grapes discussed
? and planned in future agenda (FD 2(36)1, 1878)
James H. White 1879 Indian River Horticultural and Pomological Society sent grape
sample to Dispatch to promote their district; grape committee
formed (FD 4(10)2, 1879)
? 1887 Reference to a grape committee at Florida Fruit Growers
Association meeting in Orlando (FD 7(17)358-9, 1887)
J. Leahman 1887 Formation of a state grape growing association suggested to
Dispatch Editor (FD 7(16)338, 1887)
Dudley W. 1888 Florida State Horticultural Society formed and a Committee on
Adams & Emil Grape appointed; Dubois FSHS Vice President (FD 8(16)312-13,
P.P. Ink 1892 Ink was secretary of the Orange County Grape Growers Assoc. (FD
G.H. Wright 4(28)545; FSHS 5:31, 1892) Was Wright President?
W.E. Bolles 1921 Cited as FGGA President, E.L. Zimmerman Secretary, N.W.
Chadwick, Treasurer, Membership was 104 (FlaTimesUnion 56
Nov11, 1921). Or was it 65? (FG 23(22)6, 1921)
? 1921 Truskett cited attendance at a fall 1921 meeting of the "newly
formed FGGA" in Oldsmar (Williams, 1988, pg 124)
H.T. Fisher 1922- Cited as 6th Annual Meeting of FGGA, so the first was in 1916??
1925 Called H.T. Fisher P.T. so accuracy questionable. (FlaTimesUnion
57 Novl7, 1922); Membership about 100; Cited as 9th FGGA
meeting; puts founding back to 1914 or, if 2/year, -1918 ? (FG
28(24)8, 1923) Fisher reelected for 1924.
E. L. Lord 1925- FGGA mentioned as over 8 years old (FG 38(6)5-6, 1930), so
1937 founded -1921? Lord was president for the last 6 years (FSHS
44:177, 1931). Lord reelected for 10th term (FG 40(8)15, 1932)
A.E. Pickard 1938- FG 61(6)10, 1953. Cited tenure of Lord from UF and Pickard, an
1939 Orange County grape grower (FG 44(7)6, 1936)
Dr. Charles 1940- Sentinel-Star, July 11 1948; FG 58(4)10,27,28, 1950;
Demko 1954 FlaTimesUnion, undated, -1952 President for 14 years
Joseph L. 1954- (Times-Union, undated, 1954?); Fennell reelected in 1956
Fennell 1956 (Orlando Sentinel, Lake Sumter Edition, July 19, 1956.)
Charles W. 1961- Dr. Demko's son possibly President multiple years anyone
Demko 1968 between Fennell and C.W. Demko?(Orlando Sentinel Jul 19, 1956)
C.L. 1968 Anyone between Demko and McCormick? (FlaTimesUnion July
McCormick 1971 11 1971)
[The Presidents and their tenure are correctly recorded from here
Thomas J. 1972- Tom championed U-pick and fresh market quality. Multi-generation
Hughes, Sr. 1974 contribution with son, Tom, Jr. still active
Esmond Grosz 1974- Esmond brought substantial business skills record keeping and was
1976 involved in wine making and attracting wine interests to Florida.
Florence Hall 1977- Florence achieved legislative recognition and support for FGGA
1978 and developed regional marketing organization. Championed
FAMU grape research program
Levin Darden 1979- Levin persisted with legislative recognition and followed through
1980 with Hall's initiatives
Clara-Jane 1980- Clara Jane promoted the fresh market needs and communicated the
Smith 1981 value of grapes to legislators (with husband Bill)
Harold 1982- Harold developed regional meetings and organized fresh market
Crevasse 1983 sales cooperative
Jim Eckhart 1983- A former legislator himself, Jim strengthened ties with the FDACS
1987 and development of the Viticulture Policy Act
Gary Ketchum 1987- As an early Principle in Lafayette Winery and attorney, he was
1988 prominent in addressing legislative matters and FGGA support
John Holloway 1989 John's vineyard expertise and familiarity with the Florida
1990 legislature saved the Viticulture Trust Fund from oblivion
Joe Spinelli 1991- Very proactive regarding workshops, wine-food popularization, and
1994 state wide promotional activities
Joe Stephany 1995- Centralized the FGGA office and streamlines administrative
Byron Biddle 1997- Emphasized the statewide nature of the FGGA and provided a
1998 Panhandle winery and presence for events
Gary Cox 1999- Successfully initiated several wineries and instrumental in
2000 Viticulture Trust Fund development and survival
Bob Paulish 2001- Brought Information Technology skills to the FGGA and refined
2006 newsletter and Wine Competition (with wife, Bonnie Jean)
Donnie Nettles 2007- Popularized and excelled in Hobby wine competition
Election to be 2009
held in January
C. The Dynamics of Volunteer Organizations
Let's now consider the environment under which associations such as the FGGA evolve and
Over its 85 year history, thousands of individuals have been members of the FGGA. Many have
conspicuously left their mark and are noted here. Others by their FGGA membership and
activities in growing, processing, marketing and/or promoting grapes have contributed to the
industry. Less visible members, by serving as active FGGA members or officers, providing ideas
and thoughtful discussion, and supporting the leadership have been and/or are an essential part of
the organization. To use a rough analogy Generals and their officer-staff direct battles,
noncoms and privates win them.
Associations start with a perceived need by a few with a common interest they associate. The
need resonates with others sympathetic to the cause, and informal meetings result in a leadership
group which takes the initial steps to formalize an organization. This may involve soliciting
support from known backers (starting from scratch), changing the structure or goals of an
existing organization, forming an allied/competing group (breaking away), or going outside the
originating group for members and support. In any case, this is a common, reasonably
democratic operation repeated as frequently as new issues and challenges affect special interest
groups and society. Apparently there were many in Florida in the 1870s on. An interesting listing
along with officers and their location of state/regional agricultural organizations grew from two
when first reported (FlaDispatch 2(36)4, 1878) to 26 in the last such report (FlaDispatch 6(36),
1882), and peaked with 28 cited, (Table 2, FlaDispatch 1(3)11, 1882).
What makes a successful organization? Sadly, it is much easier to destroy a viable association
consisting of members with a common purpose than it is to form and maintain it. Even when the
association is based on an obvious need, well articulated in its charter, and strongly led, failures
occur. The change in business or personal circumstances employment, serious illness or death
of key personnel can be devastating to an organization, as can unresolved business, political, or
personal controversies. Additionally, issues change and dynamic leadership can switch focus or
simply run out of steam burn out. Fortunately, when some falter due to profession, economic,
or personal reasons, others step in to fill the gap and keep things moving.
All of the above have occurred within the FGGA. Fortunately, the organization has depth -
members capable of stepping in to fill the gap, often with changes in direction and emphasis.
Membership retention and recruitment are the constant survival needs of any organization;
volunteers can and do walk away from organizations that do not meet their personal or
professional needs. The current FGGA viability reflects well on the attractive proposition of
grape growing in Florida and the people involved. Although grape growing (farming) is central
to our focus, many contributors come from other careers, having developed an interest in grapes
after or concurrent with their primary profession. All bring much to the organization, even as
they cycle in and then move on.
The process by which organizations are initiated, maintained, and modified is analogous to
"Open Source Software" in the computer industry a system by which users and aficionados
individually and collectively, informally and formally work on an open source code available to
all and continually improve its operation and functionality. So too FGGA officers, members, and
advisors with the common goal of improving the Florida grape industry, have since inception
(and even before, as we have seen), added to the focus and operation of the organization. These
are the individuals we wish to recognize and whose accomplishments merit emphasis.
In addition, it is essential that the ideas generated, used, modified, and/or discarded be
documented. That is the second purpose of this text. Although times and conditions change there
are some procedures, policies, and programs that have worked well for the FGGA. We'll discuss
these in closing, since by modifying to meet existing or anticipated circumstances their open
source nature should be of value in the future.
Florida is a large, long state covering several vastly different climatic zones from semi tropical to
almost temperate. Consequently, growing conditions vary dramatically from Key West to
Pensacola, a land distance of over 700 miles, and from marine coastal to continental inland.
Thus, the adaptation of grapes and growers is equally diverse. Although the early work was
around Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Orlando [East, West, and South Florida, respectively, as
they were known at the time], many vineyards were established throughout state and growers
cooperated regionally. Eventually local chapters developed, facilitating vineyard visits, meetings,
and exchange of germplasm and information. These activities preceded the FGGA, and were the
likely catalyst for its formation and success.
The Florida State Horticultural Society (FSHS) formed in 1888 preceding the FGGA by -35
years and itself, grew out of Agriculture focused organizations initiated even earlier. In fact,
from the earliest years the FSHS had a Committee on Grapes. Active committee members, who
reported on grapes in the FSHS Proceedings, were some of those pioneers we now recognize.
The annual reports and related conversations provide a fascinating record of the ups and downs
of grapes in Florida from the 1870s on.
Individuals active in the foundation of both the FSHS and FGGA were for the most part private
parties interested in horticulture from a business or hobby standpoint. Later, as agricultural
research was promoted and funded by the federal (USDA) and state governments (Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station, and later Florida Department of Agriculture and FAMU) a
healthy mix of educators, research scientists, commercial grape growers, wine makers, and
hobbyists were attracted to grapes. This synergism exists today another example of "Open
The early FSHS Proceedings had informative articles on grape propagation and sales, primarily
in West and Central Florida (Tallahassee and Orlando). Then around 1907 there was scant
mention of grapes, except to note that muscadines were much more amenable to Florida
conditions and recommended over other species. In the early 1920s grapes again received some
attention regarding activities in Central Florida. This petered out by the late 1930s.
These early FSHS Proceedings are fascinating reading, as there were many historical
recollections by early members that described the contributions of their colleagues to the success
of agriculture in Florida from the 19th century on the type of narrative we're aiming for here,
albeit without the benefit of grape old timers. Unfortunately or perhaps inevitably, the articles on
personal recollections and biographical information (as part of the Necrology section)
diminished as scientific rigor and 3rd person, impersonal narratives took over. Thus, although the
scientific knowledge and technical accomplishments increased dramatically and continue today,
the identification and contributions of those prominently involved is much more impersonalized.
To the surprise of no one who has been or is involved in growing grapes in Florida, it is an
extremely difficult undertaking, compared to other agricultural endeavors or even viticulture
practiced in favorable regions practically anywhere else on the planet. Everything grows well in
Florida: the vines, competing vegetation (weeds), insects, nematodes, birds, varmints, larger
predators, pathogenic bacteria and virus. If one or a combination of these cited factors wasn't a
sufficient deterrent, add the vagaries of weather too much or too little rain in volume, time, or
location; untimely frosts, hurricanes certainly complicate the enterprise. To these now add
environmental and 21st Century sustainability concerns some legitimate, others unrealistic.
The challenges met and overcome belie the comparatively minor (but increasing) contribution of
grapes to Florida's total agricultural output. It is an underappreciated accomplishment, yet ever
pertinent to viticulturists in more hospitable environments for whom the Florida viticulture
research findings and practices are valuable guides. "If you can successfully grow grapes in
Florida, you can grow them anywhere" (Quote, personal recollection circa 1980)
D. The Triad
The success of major Agricultural endeavors such as Viticulture is based on science and
technology and depends on three entities. These are:
(1) Industrial component businesses and entrepreneurs willing to invest time, resources, and
capital in an enterprise. They take the risk and reap much of the rewards.
(2) Scientist and technologists capable of providing the expertise necessary to overcome
technical problems, maintain progress, and foster competition.
(3) Government infrastructure to support (or at least not hinder) private enterprise. A given is the
legal framework to insure an orderly business landscape and avoid social disrupting (dishonest),
environmentally unsound, or unsafe practices.
As the grape industry developed in Florida, these three features came together and allowed the
industry to at least survive the hard times and prosper during good ones.
First, there were dedicated growers who felt that grapes could and should be a Florida crop.
Some liked the idea of growing grapes for fun, others for profit. Many had experience or
aspirations based on successful grape ventures elsewhere, and recognized the potential inherent
in Florida's appealing climate and natural resources. Just as important were the hobbyists,
likewise committed to grapes and the "Romance of the Vine". Together, these were the pioneers
who planted vineyards and committed to overcoming the challenges involved. Initially they
communicated informally and later formed a number of horticultural oriented organizations
which evolved into the FSHS and the FGGA.
The second pillar of strength was the scientific community. Some growers had or acquired the
necessary technical background, allied themselves with those that had, or relied upon the
expertise in the available literature. Initially trial and error was the learning mode, and worked
well on an individual and collective basis. Information was reasonably effective, dissipated first
informally from neighbors and nurserymen and later formally through the evolving agricultural
institutions and associations.
Agriculture is progressively based on the physical, chemical, and biological sciences; behavioral
sciences such as economics, business, and sociology now play an increasingly important role.
Educational institutions, which were expanding across the nation, provided graduates trained in
agriculture and related disciplines. Whether trained graduates went to industry, joined family
farm operations, or academic pursuits, their technical contribution substantially increased the
scientific and technical level of farming, including viticulture and enology. As scientific
knowledge accumulated and was put to use, it became clear that grape cultivation in Florida is a
much more complex undertaking than in most global regions, hence the third contributor.
The third partner is government. Thanks primarily to the Morrill Act of 1862 and subsequent
Federal and State investments in Agriculture support. The combined effort of the USDA and
State Agricultural Research and Cooperative Extension Services, plus the essential involvement
of Colleges of Agriculture, is to a large extent responsible for the global dominance of U.S.
Agriculture a fact often taken for granted, but strikingly evident when contrasted to the
developing or undeveloped world. This brought financial support and a degree of regulatory
control to Florida agricultural enterprises.
However, in the early days all was not sweetness and light between the Agricultural Community
and State Agriculture Colleges (Marcus, 1986). The pragmatic needs of farmers and the goal of
expanding knowledge in the Agricultural Sciences met head on, and through a combination of
cooperation, competition, and communication was reasonably well resolved. Although, even
today the priorities of scientific and business interests require mutual understanding and
compromise, as the FGGA narrative well illustrates.
It is highly unlikely that a viable agricultural industry, let alone a grape industry, would have
developed had it not been for the fortuitous combination and strength of this triad. It continues
today and we are exploring its components with emphasis on the people who made/make it
E. Federal and Florida Agricultural Research and Extension Services
Governmental involvement in viticulture was slow coming to Florida. However, the need for
agricultural research was recognized even before Florida was U.S. Territory and voiced
continually thereafter. The 1862 Morrell Act and subsequent federal legislation set the stage
although Civil War and Reconstruction turmoil prevailed for the following 3 decades, (Cresap,
1982 Chapl5; Ferleger, 1990). The idea of an Agriculture College jelled in 1870, but it was 1884
in Lake City before a physical facility existed (Proctor, 1962) and 1891 before grape research
was reported (Bull. 14, Figure 42; ibid pp 1-12). Results were disappointing in the 70 variety
vineyard (presumably in Lake City), and not much was reported about grapes for awhile.
Figure 42. First Annual Report Florida Experiment Station
The burden of grape research and development (R&D) was carried by the private sector, as well
described in publications of the time. Nevertheless, the Federal government through the
Department of Agriculture was actively involved in Alachua County. A prominent viticulturist,
Baron H. Von Luttichau, was very active in promoting grapes at his estate in Earleton, about 12
miles northwest of Gainesville. Von Luttichau participated in the FSHS as a contributing author
and member of the Committee on Grapes. From the 1880s to 1905 he reported and published
In 1887 Von Luttichau initiated plantings on his "Government Experiment Station", established
in consultation with George C. Husmann, Department of Agriculture, who was charged with
evaluating grape variety adaptability and promoting their cultivation in various states. Caution,
G. W. Husmann's, father George Husmann contributed significantly to grape and wine
developments in Missouri, California, and even France (phyloxella resistant rootstock) but not
Florida (Pinney, 1989 has many citations on both Husmanns). His son continued exploring
grape potential throughout the U.S. (Husmann, 1916; Husmann, 1932). The USDA continued
grape investigations in Florida, as implied by later authors (Dearing, 1922; Fisher, 1924).
Curiously, in 1896 H. Von Luttichau lead off a FSHS presentation with the surprising
statement, "I had to give up grapes; they did not pay me well." (FlaStateHortSoc 9:67-69, 1896).
But in the 1905 proceedings, he reported again on "The Government Viticultural Experiment
Station". He noted that vines did well through the 5th year and then declined (FlaStateHortSoc
18:60-62, 1905). He blamed it on improper pruning, variety, soil, or location and recommended
replanting after 6 or 7 years. This was the last H. Von Luttichau was heard from regarding
grapes, although his avocado endeavors were noted as late as 1916.
(http://www.avocadosource.com/CAS Yearbooks/CAS 02 1916/CAS 1916 PG 165-168.pdf.)
Von Luttichau was much more than a viticulturist, since he was cited as growing avocados and
demonstrated considerable knowledge of citrus culture and cover crop usage, as reflected by his
cooperation with H. Harold Hume, horticulturist and botanist at the University of Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville (Hume, 1911 pg. 290).
Von Luttichau, was cited (Buchholz, 1929 pg. 178) as "Von Ladisha [sic], foreign botanist and
horticulturist [bought Earle's Belvedere Nursery site on Lake Santa Fe] and began experimenting with
the introduction of foreign tropical fruits. His place was famous for its wealth of flowering plants,
especially azaleas. In 1880 the state supplemented his work, and there established its first experiment
station." [Was it the State or Federal Government or both?]
1. University of Florida Grape Research 1891-1929
The first mention of grapes by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station was in the
1891Annual Report from the original Lake City site. Sixty varieties planted earlier were so
affected by freezes, drought, and disease that the fruit quality wasn't worth reporting (Fla Ag
Exp Sta Report, pp 11-12 1891). The 1893 Annual Report indicated that 40 Italian grape vines
received from California were planted and the old vineyard had some surviving vines of
unknown varieties (Fla Ag Exp Sta Annual Report, pg. 15 1893). Presumably, the location was
on the Lake City farm, and nothing more was mentioned. In 1896 Annual Report, 23 varieties
were set out at the Myers Sub-Station (Fla Ag Exp Sta Annual Report, pg.78-79 1896). Most
were labrusca with some aestivalis and rotundifolia, but most didn't do well.
The Agricultural College moved to Gainesville in 1905. There was scant mention of grapes until
several decades later when a 1924 report cited mixed results with 62 bunch grape (mostly
hybrids probably Munson's) and 16 muscadine varieties under observation (Figures 32 ABC)
(Fla Ag Exp Sta Annual Report, pg.61R-62R 1924). These vines were followed for several years
with mediocre results. Nevertheless, the resurgent interest in grapes was very dramatic see
(Timeline and Bibliography-Chronology circa 1921-1930).
The most cogent summation came in 1926. Arthur S. Rhoads, assistant Plant Pathologist,
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Cocoa published Bulletin 178, Diseases of Grapes in
Florida (Rhoads, 1926). This comprehensive publication provided an overview of previous
viticulture efforts, spoke optimistically about the potential of Munson's hybrids as breeding
stock, and cautioned that the ideal commercial variety had yet to be developed due to disease
problems. Rhoads then detailed fungal diseases and means of combating them.
Coinciding with the decline in grape interest between about 1905 and 1920, there didn't seem to
be much federal or state Agricultural Experiment Station reporting on grapes, although research
did go on. In 1920 Charles Dearing of the USDA encouraged muscadine grape production and
utilization. He cited his earlier muscadine breeding work in Florida around 1909 for the Bureau
of Plant Industries and the rationale for emphasizing native Vitis species over those introduced
from elsewhere (Dearing, 1920). [Dearing's opinion of bunch grapes potential in Florida was
disdained as overly pessimistic and discouraging for about 20+ years, although events eventually
proved him to be correct.]
In 1922 Dearing again addressed the FSHS, reinforcing the value of muscadines and citing
previous failures with vinifera and northern species (Dearing, 1922). By this time there was
strong interest in Munson hybrids among another generation of Florida growers. At this meeting
E.L. Lord, UF College of Agriculture, Gainesville provided an update on bunch grapes and
indicated that propagation research was underway at several state experiment stations (Lord,
1922). H.T. Fisher, Eustis followed with an upbeat article on grape potential, citing grafting and
labrusca-native breeding work 12 year previously (-1910) by Frank W. Savage of the
Government Station in Eustis (Fisher, 1922).
The early level of grape research and extension support from the state is unclear. A 1923 FSHS
presentation cited helpful information from Gainesville Ag Station (Sylvesters, 1923) and
another presenter mentions advice against bunch grape propagation by the USDA and little
encouragement by state agents, except to save existing vineyards (Burnham, 1923). Lord then
addressed disease control (Lord, 1923), as did C.L. Shear, USDA (Shear, 1923). This was
followed by a paper on grape insects by J.R. Watson, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
Gainesville (Watson, 1923). So clearly the message was getting through and both USDA and the
Ag Station were ramping up grape research and extension efforts. Growers now had much more
information and tools to deal with insects and diseases than their predecessors 30 years prior.
2. IFAS Today
It is worthwhile to look briefly at the changes that the Agricultural College, Agricultural
Research and Extension Services since the early 1900s, as recently cited (Florida Trend, 2008
"IFAS traces its roots to the 19th century. The U.S. Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant
universities in an effort to bring advanced practical research to Americans who didn't have
access to higher education. Over time, Congress also asked the universities to build agricultural
experiment stations and cooperative extension efforts that sent agents into rural areas to bring
research to farmers.
Today, in addition to housing UF's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, forestry, natural
resources and other academic divisions, IFAS maintains offices in every one of Florida's 67
counties, as well as 13 research and education centers in 19 locations around the state. In
Homestead, for example, IFAS professors teach and research tropical and subtropical crops from
papayas to passion fruit. In Lake Alfred the largest citrus-research center in the world -
IFAS faculty battle the citrus greening disease that threatens to wipe out Florida's signature
Teaching: IFAS' primary academic unit is the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with
more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students in agricultural and biological engineering;
agricultural education and communications; animal sciences; entomology and nematology;
environmental horticulture; fisheries and aquatic sciences; food science and human nutrition;
microbiology and cell science; plant pathology; forest resources and conservation; soil and water
science; wildlife ecology and conservation.
Research: IFAS pulled in about $72 million in research, teaching and extension grants last year,
both on campus and in its 13 research and education centers around the state. The largest
contributor was the U.S. Department of Agriculture, followed by the Florida Department of
Agriculture & Consumer Services. The academic departments that landed the most grant funding
were: Fisheries, $6.2 million; microbiology, $5.3 million; horticultural sciences, $4.8 million;
agriculture and biological engineering, $4.3 million. IFAS researchers have brought to market
nearly 300 new cultivars and inventions over the past five years, the majority of them plant
Extension: IFAS manages Florida Cooperative Extension Service offices in all 67 counties.
Extension agents specialize in everything from traditional row crops to growth management and
land-use. The service coordinates volunteers in programs such as the Master Gardener program.
Extension volunteers work the annual equivalent of 672 full-time employees. IFAS youth
programs such as 4-H focus on youth leadership development. Its Florida Yards and
Neighborhoods program helps homeowners create and maintain efficient landscapes.
3. Florida A&M University Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research
In 1978 another grape research partner came on scene, thanks to FGGA efforts to be described.
The center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research was established in the College of
Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture in 1978 by the Florida Legislature (Florida
Viticulture Policy Act, 1978, to assist in the development of the Florida grape and wine industry
through research, extension service, and student training.
The Center is to focus exclusively on viticulture research until more recently when small fruit
research was added to the program in 1999. Over the years, the Center has undergone extensive
improvement to enhance its research capability and capacity. With the support of Florida A&M
University and Florida Viticulture Industry, the Center was relocated in 2001 from the main
campus of Florida A&M University in downtown Tallahassee to its present location on Mahan
Drive (the Former Lafayette Winery), with 40 acre vineyard and a 15,000 ft2 lab and office
space. The center has since continued to grow and is becoming the largest and best equipped
facility dedicated to viticulture warm climate grape research in the south and southeastern
To conduct research and provide service and support that will help the viticulture industry in
Florida become a viable industry.
1. Develop new and improved grape cultivars and selected small fruits suitable for fresh
fruit and processing.
2. Improve the disease resistance of Florida grapes through classical breeding and
3. Promote the marketability of Florida grapes and value-added products through research
4. Develop best management practices for Florida grapes and selected small fruits.
5. Establish a small fruit improvement program with emphasis on blackberries and
6. Promote a strong graduate research program through research and student experiential
Missions and Research Objectives
Located east of the main FAMU campus on US 90, the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit
Research is situated on the site that was formerly Lafayette Vineyards. This has provided
researchers with an ideal facility for viticulture research, with well-established vineyards and a
state-of-the-art laboratory where they can work on everything from genome research to the
development of seedless muscadine varieties and the development of other small fruit varieties
adapted to north Florida.
The mission of the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research is to conduct research and
provide service and support that will help the Florida viticulture industry to become an
economically viable industry. To achieve that, the Center has developed six goals that
researchers will be addressing for the next few years:
Develop new and improved grape cultivars for fresh fruit and for processing
Improve the disease resistance of Florida grapes
Promote the marketability of Florida grapes and value-added products
Develop best management practices for vineyard operations
Establish a small fruit program with emphasis on commercial potential
Provide extension and outreach services to grape growers and processors
These research goals are aimed at helping Florida grape growers improve their marketing and
production, and at helping to put the viticulture industry in the state on a sound economic
footing. The Center's research projects are directly tied to industry needs as they have been
identified by the Florida Viticulture Advisory Council.
Research projects address many aspects of grape and wine production in Florida; program
emphases are on both wine and table grapes. One effort has been the development of a seedless
muscadine with large berries and good quality fruit that will have edible skin and good disease
tolerance for making wine, juice, and jelly.
Muscadines, of course, are the most common native grape in north Florida, but they're not the
only grape that the Center works on. Researchers also are working with bunch grapes, some of
which also are native to the region. Different research projects look at various management and
cultural practices, to determine the effects of different kinds of trellis systems, canopy
management, vine density and pruning on fruit production and fruit quality for both muscadines
and bunch grapes.
The wine industry is not new to Florida. From the 1880s to the 1920s, Florida grape growers
planted more than 12,000 acres of vines. The rich, highly-flavored muscadine wines that those
growers produced became a well-known regional specialty. However, by the 1950s, most of that
acreage had been decimated by Pierce's Disease, which causes vine degeneration and death.
Although breeding programs have developed improved varieties of native muscadines with
natural resistance to Pierce's Disease, researchers at the Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit
Research are working to identify genes that offer resistance to both Pierce's Disease and other
fungal diseases. This project, known as the Grape Genomics and Bioinformatics Research and
Training Program, is aimed at identifying and sequencing groups of genes from native American
grape species that can provide disease resistance and stress tolerance; researchers will be able to
use this information to improve grape cultivars that are susceptible to several diseases and to
stress. Other projects are aimed at determining ways to manage the glassy-winged sharpshooter,
an insect that helps spread Pierce's Disease from plant to plant.
The Center also works to disseminate information to growers through a formal and informal
outreach program. An annual Grape Field Day at the Center provides growers and the general
public with the opportunity to see what researchers are working on and learn new management
practices that will help them in their vineyards. Faculty and staff also help growers on a one-to-
one basis with production and management problems.
In a unique approach to making the public aware of research being done at the Center, faculty
members have offered introductory and advanced courses in the Art and Science of Enology.
Participants who complete 70% of the course lectures and review sessions and take the final
exam receive two credit units of the University Outreach Program.
Besides grapes, researchers at the Center are field-testing north Florida-adapted varieties of fruits
such as blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, and other non-traditional fruits; growers also have asked
researchers to look at raspberries. Administrators expect this program area to expand over the
next few years to include a breeding component for new hybrids that will provide new economic
crops for small farmers.
That's the grape research situation today, with multiple state and federal programs capable of
addressing grapes industry problems. But let's look back -80 years when the research efforts and
involvement of State and Federal agricultural professionals in the FSHS was increasing. Their
participation coincided with and was undoubtedly related to the formation of the FGGA. Still,
the majority of reports originated from private growers, who were as optimistic as their
counterparts were 30 years earlier. However, the stage was now set for an essential increase in
Florida viticulture knowledge, coming from the underappreciated Florida Agricultural
4. The Leesburg Station
The contribution of this research center closely mirrors the successful development of the Florida
grape industry. It was the driving force behind Florida grape developments for about 70 years.
The Leesburg Field Laboratory was founded as a branch unit of the University of Florida
Agriculture Experiment Station system in 1929 (IFAS, 1982) Leesburg ARC Research Report
WG-82-1). The initial research emphasis was on disease and insect problems threatening the
thriving watermelon industry. It wasn't until the 1933-34 when, prompted by the FGGA,
attention was turned to grape pests. [The date could have been as early as 1931, according to a
researcher involved (Loucks, 1944, 1st paragraph).] It was reported that 3 men went to
Tallahassee (1933-34) to request legislative support to deal with diseased vineyards (IFAS
1982- Mortensen, pgl3).
"In 1933 three men went to Tallahassee..." This was the quote that prompted us to ask an
intriguing question who were these men? Possibly H.T. Fisher, former FGGA President and
Dr. Charles Demko, active grower and future FGGA President were two. The third was possibly
E.E. Truskett or Col. W.J. Stover (Loren Stover's father), partner in the MacKenzie-Stover
vineyard operations. We earlier speculated that Dr. W.A. MacKenzie, elsewhere identified as
Mayor of Leesburg and a representative in the Florida Legislature, was probably involved
(FlaGrower 32(12)5, 1925). However, MacKenzie left the scene inl929, killed in a firearm
accident (FlaGrower 37(6)3, 1929) and nothing more was heard from the MacKenzie-Stover
experimental vineyard. Nevertheless, grape growers certainly had political connections and
independent of their identity and date, these three men [and their behind the scene colleagues]
did their work well.
Although capable scientists from the USDA and Florida Agricultural Experiment Station had
contributed significantly in addressing the grape problems in the 1920s and early 30s, they were
scattered Hussmann had national responsibilities out of Washington DC; Dearing was based
in North Carolina and in and out of Florida; Lord was at the Ag Experimental Station,
Gainesville; Rhoads was at the Florida Experiment Station, Cocoa, and Loucks at was at the
Leesburg Station. The Lake County extension agent, C.R. Hiatt and his counterparts in
neighboring counties worked closely with growers. Hiatt was FGGA Secretary in the early
1930s and Lord was President from 1925 to 1937.
The modest appropriation of funds ($3,500) to study grape diseases at Leesburg, eventually led
to an interdisciplinary group of scientists with a grape research focus. Although a "critical mass"
wasn't reached for some time, the Leesburg Station was central to the growing region and
convenient to many grape growers.
As today, these State and Federal professionals provided material and moral support to
commercial and hobby grape growers and grape aficionados to promote the industry. However,
government research scientists usually don't go directly to state or federal legislators asking for
support. [Although Lord's tenure as FGGA President encompassed that time frame, we
speculate that it is unlikely that, as a state employee, he was one of the three who went to
Tallahassee.] That's the job of commercial growers with business interests affecting the
economic well being of their locales employment, taxes, sustainable community growth.
Businessmen (and women) are in a much better position to champion the benefits of agricultural
research focusing on their problems, amenable to research solutions or government policy
directives. When the right people are involved in thoughtful dialog with legislators, it works. It
did in the early 1930s and again about 45 years later, as we'll see.
One caveat Government programs, be it teaching, research, extension, or marketing are very
sensitive to the funds available. Support levels wax and wane in response to the condition of
state and federal treasuries, which in turn depends on local, national, global economies (now
increasingly). Furthermore, even in good and especially in bad times, funding levels are never
enough and priorities must be set. Thanks to political savvy FGGA members and enthusiasts,
grapes have done reasonably well, and the support justification is evident in the vitality of the
industry. Yet the job is never done; a number of other agricultural entities can lay stake to the
same persuasive arguments. Maintaining economic vitality and political connectivity is the
continuing challenge of FGGA officers, members, and businesses.
It's worth emphasizing that state and federal professionals actively support practically all
agricultural organizations. By their membership and participation as volunteers, elected officers,
and committee members, these government employees are visible, active supporters of
professional societies. They provide continuity. From its 1888 founding, the rolls of the FSHS
illustrate this commitment as does the history of other commodity and/or profession focused
associations throughout the nation. The Bibliography-Chronology listing of FSHS Officers is
replete with Federal and State horticulturists and administrators, many with strong grape interest
Now, back to Leesburg The station was designated as the Watermelon and Grape Investigations
Laboratory in 1941-42 and had several name changes associated with changing research
emphasis. The original 77 acre farm near Whitney was moved to its final station location, off
Route 27, 6 miles south of Leesburg in 1958 (FlaGrowerAndRancher 63(7)12-13, 1955). By
1972 the facility had expanded to 262 acres.
Figure 43. Initial Florida State Figure 44. Whitney Laboratory -1938.
Experiment Station Facility, Whitney
It was in these two environs that the landmark research started, leading up to Pierce's disease
(PD) resistant cultivars and supporting studies that made bunch grape cultivation possible
(Figures 43 & 44). In 2000 the property was sold and the research operation moved to the Mid
Florida Agricultural Research and Education Center in Apopka (MREC).
The Leesburg Watermelon and Grape Lab (later the IFAS Leesburg Agriculture Research Center
- we'll call it the Leesburg Station for simplicity.) was the driving force behind Florida grape
developments for many decades. And the effort continues in Apopka today. The MREC research
program areas are considerably broader that at the old Leesburg Station, yet grapes are still a
prominent research focus. The primary objective is the development of marketable, productive,
and long-lived bunch and muscadine grape cultivars, maximizing production efficiency, and
control of Pierce's disease by chemical or biological means including genetic modification of
grapes and in controlling the insect vector (IFAS, 1982-Mortensen, pg 13).
It should be emphasized that the classic research in defining PD as bacterial in nature and
identifying the insect vector was accomplished at Leesburg and these findings are applied by
research scientists and viticulturist globally. A number of notable scientist well worth
mentioning addressed grape issues at Leesburg. Early contributors and their dates of service are
noted below. Many of these individuals deserve credit for the recovery and present viability of
the Florida grape industry after the last grape boom and bust of the 1920s and 30s. Their research
contributions are evident in the accompanying bibliography and, in the case of several
individuals noted, continue today.
M.N. Walker 1929-1942
G.K. Parris 1945-1951
J.M. Crall- 1952-1977
W.B. Shippy- 1929-1937
K.W. Loucks 1929-1943
N.C. Scherick 1956-1969
D.L. Hopkins 1969-present
C.C. Goff- 1930-1939
J.W. Wilson 1930-1937
W.C. Adlerz 1958-19??
C.H. Curran- 1961-1971
S. Webb 19??-??
L.H. Stover 1941-1965 (actually 1939 to mid 1970s, see below)
C.F. Balerdi 1966-1972
G.W. Elmstrom 1969-19??
M. Halbrook- 1984-1989
James Harris ??
J.G. Buchert- 1959-1960
J.A. Mortensen 1960-1991
D.G. Gray- 1984-present
E.E. Harrwig 1942-1943
C.G. Helms, Jr. 1950-1955
H.A. Peacock- 1957-1958
F. The Successful Search
Now back to the Leesburg Station. One standout was Loren H. Stover. Loren's father, W.J.
Stover, himself an early grape pioneer as indicated, undoubtedly involved Loren in those
vineyard efforts. [There's some indication that W.J. spent time in Jamaica and Australia,
probably before Loren was born, but details are vague.] Although the Stover-MacKenzie
experimental vines didn't survive, Loren Stover's commitment to and expertise in grapes did.
Hence, literally and figuratively, the seed for success was sewn at that time. In 1939 Stover was
hired by the UF Lab in Leesburg as a field hand a fortuitous decision indeed. By painstakingly
collecting Florida grape germplasm from wild vines selections with productive vines from
elsewhere, Stover, whose dedication was recognized by his promotion to Assistant in
Horticulture, and Leesburg researchers, notably K.W. Loucks, slowly defined past problems and
set the path for future solutions. During the war years, resources and personnel were scarce, so
Stover was both caretaker and research hand.
As is common with traditional breeding, most crosses, requiring years of careful cultivation and
evaluation, lead nowhere. Successes are all too rare, measuring in one per many thousands of
attempts, but they do occur. The following quote by T.V. Munson puts these labors in
perspective (Munson, 1909 pg 6):
"Special Study of Grape Botany Necessary"
"It was at once apparent to me that a thorough botanical investigation of all species of our
wild grapes must be made before much valuable work in this field could be done.
The characters and properties of each species must be learned; the climatic and soil conditions under
which each thrives best; the climatic and soil conditions in general of the various sections of country, so
that varieties best suited to each may be produced, must be sought and thoroughly studied.
Such work requires long continued and extensive investigation. The pioneer originator
must travel much in the woods of every section where wild grapes grow, and study the habits; search out
and collect together the best varieties from every region and breed up their good properties if he would
most certainly produce varieties best adapted to those sections.
At various times during the past thirty years, the writer traveled through forty of the
states and territories of the Union, never neglecting any opportunity to hunt and study the
wild plants, especially the grapes and other wild fruits. In these journeys not less than fifty thousand miles
were traveled by railway, and many hundreds on horseback and on foot, -and thousands of vines of nearly
every species of American grape were studied growing in their native habitats.
Correspondence was had with botanists, vineyardists and other good observers in nearly
every state and territory.
Botanical specimens and vines of all American and most of the Asiatic species were collected.
Seeds and plants of the best varieties were obtained of all these species and grown in experimental
The release of"Lake Emerald" by Loren Stover (Stover, 1954) was, in retrospect, a significant
landmark and turning point in a 200+ year quest. This introduction was the first bunch grape
with adequate disease resistance, and is still prominent as a wine grape (Figure 45).
Figure 45. The 'Lake Emerald" release. (Stover, 1954) [Shown is Stover's personal copy. The
Bulletin is online at:
The background is fascinating and illustrative of the patience and dedication of Stover and
colleagues. In 1942, K. W. Loucks, plant pathologist at Leesburg, collected a number of native
grape species for the station's grape breeding program (Fla Ag Ext Sta Report, Pg. 125 1942).
Among them was a green selection of Vitis simpsoni Munson, later named Pixiola, since it was
initially discovered growing wild near Picceola Island, Lake Griffin. This selection proved
significantly more rugged and disease resistant than 'Florida Beacon' [actually Munson's
'Extra], formerly the hardiest bunch grape available.
In 1945 Stover crossed the female, 'Pixiola', with 'Golden Muscat', itself a V vinifera x V
labrusca cross. Of the 20 seedlings resulting from this cross, only the one resulting in 'Lake
Emerald' was noteworthy. 'Golden Muscat' also made important contributions to Stover's and
subsequently John Mortensen's breeding program. The terpene-like muscat character surfaced
in 'Blanc du Bois' (Mortensen, 1987), a commercially successful white wine grape in Florida,
which does even better in Texas and other gulf coast states (http://news.ufl.edu/2006/07/12/uf-
Subsequent releases based on these efforts resulted in: 'Blue Lake'(Stover, 1960); 'Norris'
(Mortensen and Stover, 1966) In honor of Robert L. Norris, Lake County Extension Agent
and FGGA Secretary for many years; and 'Stover' (Mortensen, 1968) named in honor of
Loren Stover, who retired in 1965, but continued assisting growers and grape propagation at
Leesburg and his home in Lady Lake for several decades. The green bunch grape, 'Stover' is a
remarkable wine grape and remains popular to this day a tribute to an exceptional grape
pioneer. In 1981 Joe Midulla, proprietor of Fruit Wines of Florida, dedicated a wine from the
'Stover' grape as Lorenz Blanc in honor of Stover and his breeding efforts and planted it
extensively in his vineyard near Brooksville.
Are there other wild vines out there with similar or superior disease resistance, growth habits,
and inherent fruit quality capable of contributing valuable germplasm toward the success and
viability of the industry? Florida lacks the grape tradition of Italy, yet "ancient vines" by our
standards should be of historical interest and practical value (Italy's Ancient Vines).
Loren Stover certainly wasn't operating in a vacuum and the entire Leesburg staff should be
lauded for the contributions of this Experiment Station over its 60+ year existence. Leesburg
scientist also established vine decline to be Pierce's disease and of microbial origin. [It was
originally thought to be a virus, later identified as bacterial and spread by the sharpshooter
Hopkins and Mollenhauer, 1973;Hopkins, 1977).]
VII. REBOUNDING FROM THE 1930s MOVING AHEAD
Except for the breeding work of Demko in Altoona and Joe Fennell in South Florida (later in
Lady Lake) and Loren Stover and Kenneth W. Loucks' vital efforts at the Leesburg Station,
grapes in Florida were practically in limbo during the late 1930s and not of high priority during
the war. These were, nonetheless critical, as future events proved. Loren Stover was much more
than a caretaker for the Leesburg Station during and immediately after the war. He and Loucks
continued grape breeding work and cooperating with growers.
The 1947 and 1948 mid winter FGGA meetings didn't receive much press notice and grapes
even less, since the prominent topic was persimmons (FlaGrower 55(8)7, 1947; FlaGrower
56(1)9-10, 1948). Unlike the Leesburg Station, most Florida vineyards in general had not been
well cared for. Then the pace picked up or, in the case of the Demko and Fennell vineyards
never let up. These viticulturists had maintained their breeding and vine selection efforts. Far
from slowing down, they were vigorously pursuing the goal of disease resistant bunch grapes for
Florida. In fact, there might have been a race going on between Demko and Fennell; maybe
even Stover was involved "Grapevine Derby" (Tampa Sunday Tribune, July 12, 1953). If as
implied indeed it was a race, Stover and the Leesburg Station won.
It's more likely that these grape breeders were cooperating, albeit pursuing their own instincts
and methodology applied to personal selections. By 1951 Stover had a good indication that one
of his lines, eventually resulted in 'Lake Emerald', was hardier than 'Florida Beacon', the best of
the older hybrids (Stover and Parris, 1951). Furthermore, Leesburg scientists had established that
vine decline was Pierce's disease and reasonably site specific. Thus, planting promising
selections in areas where decline was most evident was a good test of PD resistance (Stoner and
'Lake Emerald' was released in 1954 and enthusiastically greeted by both growers and the
public. The Orlando Sentinel-Star promotion (Orlando Sentinel 1955) to distribute 'Lake
Emerald' vines to the public at cost was a novel idea that might be relevant for exciting future
grape variety releases. It would be interesting to know what ever happened to the many thousand
vines distributed in 1956. Do any survive? Did the event publicity prompt any recipients to take
up serious grape growing?
How about the equally dedicated breeding endeavors of Demko and Fennell, who were also
employing native wild bunch grapes? In fairness and recognition of their long time efforts and
dedication, we'd like to say that some of their selections survived and are thriving in Florida
vineyards today. Apparently, this is not the case, and their vines are lost to history or reverted
to wild stock. [In which case, they may to need be rediscovered, if they are to contribute in the
future.] We now have much more sophisticated means of both identifying PD resistance and
incorporating desirable traits into breeding lines (Gray et. al., 2007). Still, as preached by Demko
and Fennell and successfully demonstrated by Stover, wild grape stock is of considerable value
and should not be neglected.
Nor should some of the more rugged Munson hybrids 'Carman', 'Florida Beacon' (actually
Munson's 'Extra'), or other vines that produced such high quality bunches. These lines, along
with Fennell's 'Tamiami' and 'Largo' and Demko's 'Dunstan' and 'Taylor' also showed great
promise (except for PD resistance). If these lines haven't faded completely, perhaps the
surviving germplasm has potential in the hands of 21t century scientists.
In recognition of this important breakthrough, Loren Stover was honored, even called "The
Grandfather of Florida Grapes" (Mortensen, in Grape Times, June 1993; Answer Man, 1985 ).
Stover continued his productive breeding effort (Stover, 1960) and the research really
accelerated when John Mortensen joined the Leesburg Station as plant breeder in 1960. Clearly,
those "3 men [who] went to Tallahassee" to request grape industry support, and the Florida
Legislatures they persuaded made a wise decision.
VIII. THE SECOND HUNDRED YEARS
A. The Wine Revolution
If we consider that the first Grape Boom lasted from about 1870 to 1905, the second from about
1920 to 1935, a convenient place to start another grape era is around 1950 with the
breakthroughs cited above. From the very start Florida grape growers looked covetously to
California as a model of what could be accomplished in Florida (FlaDispatch 2(23)1, 1877;
Florida Dispatch 1(1)12, 1882 (New Series). Prohibition, followed by the Great Depression, and
the World War didn't help California grape growers either. When Prohibition ended, wine
quantity and visibility increased throughout the nation (where local laws permitted Repeal), but
the general quality was abysmal. The less discriminate thirsty citizens wanted alcohol cheap
and fast, and grapes filled the bill. Then World War II logistics further impeded wine quality.
That was about to change when a notable journalist, Leon Adams started writing about his
Leon Adams introduced the concept of 'The Wine Revolution" by emphasizing the simple,
obvious fact that wine was a food and as much a part of fine dining as anything on the table. In
his writings and personal efforts that was his central theme (Adams, 1985; Pinney, 1989).
Moreover, as he traveled the nation, visiting wineries in all states having viniculture, he
encouraged those involved. Even the smallest Boutique winery visited was given an enthusiastic
boost by his presence and in his writings. Leon founded in San Francisco the Medical Friends of
Wine physicians with an interest in wine (http://www.medicalfriendsofwine.org/). This
prestigious group recognized and promoted the health benefits of wine well before the French
Paradox became common knowledge (Renaud and de Lorgeril, 1992).
Leon Adams wasn't alone. Vintners, viticulturist, enologists, and scientists associated with the
industry and land grant universities around the country primarily California, New York, and
other traditional wine growing states applied their talents to improve grape and wine quality.
The results were dramatic, and soon reflected in the quality and popularity of U.S. wines. It
certainly got the attention of French vintners, who were more inclined to feature tradition over
science and technology in their well regarded world class wines. The message got through when
California wines began to receive accolades and awards in competitions, even in France. The
public responded and wine sales soared. This was the Wine Revolution.
Slowly but surely it reached Florida about 1970. The scientific expertise of John Mortensen and
the field experience of Loren Stover was a fortuitous combination. In short order more PD
resistant bunch grape varieties were released, one of which turned fresh attention to Florida
grapes. Appropriately enough, it was named in honor of Loren Stover. The 'Stover' grape,
released in 1968 (Mortensen, 1968) had a pleasant vinifera character (probably derived from
some vinifera stock in 'Golden Muscat'). The Leesburg Station had a very effective means of
introducing varieties and demonstrating their work. The informative Field Days which
accompanied the summer FGGA meetings served to popularize the new breeding selections and
provide the public the opportunity to sample promising grape selections, evaluate the fruit, and
discuss their merits(Figures 46 & 47).
Figure 46. Bunch Grape Field Day Figure 47. Bunch Grape Field Day
Cultivar Evaluation, Leesburg Station. Vineyard Tour, Leesburg Station -
Mortensen (center) presiding.
That feature caught the attention of a new UF faculty member. Robert P. Bates, a food
technologist joined the Food Science Department in 1967 with a focus on the processing and
utilization of existing or potential Florida foods and crops, including tropical. He was exposed to
grapes for the first time at the 1968 FGGA Field Day in Leesburg. Bob Bates didn't know much
about grapes, but he knew wine, having worked in Hawaii and Central America and made wine
from numerous tropical fruits. Several months after sampling 'Stover' and acquiring fruit, a state
project on wine from Florida grapes was underway utilizing a number of bunch and muscadine
varieties and breeding lines from John Mortensen's dynamic breeding program.
Wine has a way of attracting attention and within a few years grape growers, wine hobbyists, and
other interested parties were busy looking at the wine potential of Florida grapes. While many of
the varieties and breeding lines made quite acceptable wine, 'Stover' was exceptional and was
publicized. Actually it was over publicized, since it was quoted once in the National Press as
being "superior to the best offerings from California", a statement that neither Bates nor his
colleagues ever made. The closest was a research report indicating that Stover wine ranked equal
to common jug California Chablis, used for comparative purposes in taste panels (Bates and
Mortensen, 1969; Grosz et. al, 1973).
The clear quality advantages of the bunch grapes coming out of Leesburg and muscadines
available throughout the south caught the attention of nurserymen and U-pick operators. This
was reflected in growth of the FGGA and welcome attention to all aspects of grape utilization -
fresh market, U-pick, juice, jams, jellies, and of course, wine. By 1983 there were five
commercial wineries in Florida employing Florida grapes (Bates, 1983). [The qualification
"Florida grapes" is important, since there are wineries in state that have no interest in local or
even regional grapes. They bulk in grapes, must, juice or even wine from other major wine
producing states for all of their products. This is not Florida wine from Florida grapes, as grown
and produced by Florida Farm Wineries!]
As part of his extension responsibilities and in cooperation with FGGA programs, Bates offered
wine making workshops at various IFAS Centers. In parallel grape growers found a ready market
for their grapes with hobby winemakers, and a few commercial wineries were established (Bates
et. al., 1980). It didn't stop there. Due to the attention paid to the improved bunch grapes and
wine, the demand for fresh grapes increased and the existing and new U-pick operations
expanded. These developments had quite a beneficial impact upon FGGA activities and
B. Back to Tallahassee
Recall that back in 1931-33 "three men went to Tallahassee" to request support for the grape
industry, resulting literally and figuratively in the industry's survival and progress that transpired
from then until the late 1970s. Well, in 1977 some men and women went to Tallahassee and
accomplished an equally impressive feat.
One woman started it. Florence and Jack Hall operated a U-pick vineyard in Lake Wales and
were active in the FGGA. Florence Hall was elected the first woman President in 1977 and
immediately focused on increasing the visibility of the FGGA. The first step was requesting a
grape survey putting out a grape information brochure and getting it out to prospective FGGA
members and supporters (Hall, 1977a). She then worked diligently to get the FGGA admitted to
the Florida Agricultural Council. This body represents the state's agriculture industry and meets
with legislators, Commissioner of Agriculture, and the FDACS to promote Florida Agriculture
and deal with issues affecting its viability (Hall, 1977b; AgBill, 1977). She persuaded influential
legislators to support FGGA admission, updated FGGA ByLaws (FGGA, 1977), generated
Articles of Incorporation (Hall, 1977c) to legitimize the Association, and demonstrated that
grapes were an agricultural crop worthy of Council membership and state support. Fortuitously,
many of the records from Hall's tenure have survived; these are referenced here and included in
the Bibliography-Chronology to illustrate her diligence and persistence.
Florence Hall used her boundless energy to address the fresh market needs of the industry. In
cooperation with other Florida U-pick growers and those aware of the fresh market potential in
Florida and Georgia, she organized and presided over an organizational meeting in Griffin,
Georgia that brought growers with fresh marketing interest and experience together from a
number of southern states (Hall, 1978a;Hall,1978d) The outcome was formation of the Southeast
Grape Growers Association involving primarily grape growers from Florida and Georgia. The
organization functioned effectively for a number of years providing a reliable fresh market for
the members. [Details of this venture are being sought, since it is relevant today]
Hall subsequently promoted a muscadine research agenda emphasizing the needs of Florida and
southeast states (Hall, 1978b; Hall,1978c). Then, as the FGGA representative on the Ag Council,
Hall addressed the need for greater research emphasis on grapes first by approaching a
University of Florida IFAS administrator at an Agricultural Council meeting. He was not very
helpful or communicative. In view of that unacceptable response, a group of proactive FGGA
members, some with legislative connections and knowhow, set in motion some far reaching
Furthermore, Florida A & M University (FAMU) administration was much more receptive to
FGGA needs than an unprepared IFAS administrator, so a research thrust was initiated. Through
a special legislative appropriation the Viticulture and Small Farm Development Center was
formed at FAMU in 1978. This effectively increased Florida grape research and extension (It
must be noted that the IFAS scientists devoted to grape research totally supported FGGA desires
and were working harmoniously with growers and vintners. The IFAS communication glitch was
at the top.) Nevertheless, the Tallahassee approach certainly helped the grape community and
brought additional resources to bear on industry needs.
As if essentially doubling grape research and enhancing grape visibility wasn't enough, Hall
proceeded to initiate a vineyard survey and suggest research priorities. These were undertaken by
UF, FAMU, and USDA investigators. Although the stage was set for grape industry support,
there were myriad details and compromises to be worked out. Florence Hall was the prime
mover in getting grapes on the legislators' radar screen, but the needed support was piecemeal
for some time and things sometimes move very slowly in legislative halls, but the picture
The time was ripe. The enthusiasm of FGGA members was contagious. At grape meetings, in
vineyards, and where ever grapes and wine were discussed the message that the Florida grape
industry was on the move was clear. Thanks to vineyards near Tallahassee and FGGA members,
Doyle Conner, Commissioner of Agriculture and even the Governor, Rubin Askew were well
aware of this budding industry. The FGGA became quite active by exhibiting at the annual
Legislator Appreciation Days. The attractive display featured vineyard photos, information and,
of course, the wine display. The Florida wineries provided samples, so the booth was a very
popular location for socializing and learning more about Florida grapes (Figures 48 50).
Figure 48. FGGA Exhibit at Legislator Figure 49. FGGA Wine and Juice Exhibit
Appreciation Day (behind table Clara at Legislator Appreciation Day (Harold
Jane Smith and Mary Saunders) Crevasse in booth)
Figure 50. FGGA Wine and Juice Exhibit at Legislator Appreciation Day (Mary Saunders
C. The Viticulture Policy Act
It took time and considerable behind the scenes work by grape growers and their legislative
supporters, but finally in 1984 the Viticulture Policy Act was signed into law. This was about 7
years after Florence Hall started her proactive grape campaign and it required intense efforts and
patience by a number of FGGA Presidents, their capable Board of Directors, and grape industry
representatives from wineries and vineyards.
The Act created the Viticulture Advisory Council (VAC) and stipulated the development of a
statewide Viticulture Plan for submission to the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. The first
plan was developed by the initial VAC members Bill Smith, Chairman and Fresh fruit
representative; Harold Crevasse, Vice-chairman and Processed fruit rep; Bill Doherty, FGGA
rep; Jim Eckhart, Agricultural Advisory Council rep; Esmond Grosz, nursery rep; Joe Midulla
Winery rep; Clifton Savoy, FAMU; and Jim Davidson, UF/IFAS. Details of this well thought
out plan, much of which is still pertinent today, were summarized by Jim Eckhart (FGGA
Newsletter 12 1985).
Continuing funding support was anticipated from tax revenues on the state excise tax on wines
from Florida agricultural crops. It's no great surprise that tax consideration drive most business
decisions. Back in the 1970s, Florida had one of the highest state taxes on alcoholic beverages.
An exception was made for alcoholic products from Florida agricultural products in 1979.
Although this was a favorable situation for Florida wineries using Florida fruit, it opened the
floodgates. It actually greatly benefited distillers, who could ferment and distill citrus molasses, a
large volume byproduct of the citrus industry, to make neutral spirits, thus saving part of the
$2.25 excise tax on in-state consumption. The resulting shortage of citrus molasses subsequently
affected the cattle feed industry, where this byproduct is used to enhance the cohesiveness and
palatability of citrus peel based feed.
By special appropriations, some of these tax monies ($0.05 of the $2.25 collected on each gallon
of wine sold in Florida) were directed toward FGGA operations, grape industry promotions, and
grape research support for both FAMU and UF. However, this tax bonanza was under attack, as
California alcoholic beverage interests successfully contested Hawaii's similar tax break.
Consequently, the Florida state tax waiver was deemed a restriction of interstate commerce and
disallowed in 1988. It then looked like all the ambitious plans for funding grape industry
developments were for naught. Then, John Holloway, FGGA Board member proposed a clever,
workable arrangement that saved the day, but it wasn't easy.
A. The Viticulture Trust Fund (VTF)
Working patiently with legislators the FGGA interests were able to develop a mechanism for
utilizing a portion of that tax revenue collected on Florida wines to serve industry needs.
Individuals who worked diligently to develop, structure, and oversee the initiative were: Clara
Jane and Bill Smith, John Holloway, Harold Crevasse, Joe Midulla, Bill Doherty, James F.
Eckhart, Felicity Trueblood, Esmond Grosz, Jim Hammond, Clifton Savoy, Gary
Ketchum, Jeanne Burgess, Mike Clark, and others all members of the VAC or FGGA Board
of Directors. Essential guidance and moral support was also forthcoming from friends and
colleagues of the above FGGA members who were familiar with legislative proceedings and
policy. Clearly, the good will of the entire Florida Grape Community was needed and applied to
Many states support their grape/wine industry with similar programs, since it is a cost effective
way to promote in state business and ultimately increase tax revenue generally a win-win
situation. After much tweaking and focused effort by the entire Florida Grape Community, and
interested legislators, it worked! The VAC, whose members are appointed by the Florida
Commissioner of Agriculture, has the responsibility of setting priorities and administering these
The VAC was well described in a FGGA Newsletter report by Jeanne Burgess, who served as
Chair and/or active member for many years (Grape Times, December Pg.3 1992):
"The Viticulture Advisory Council is an advisory body to the Commissioner of Agriculture. It is charged
with directing the positive growth of the viticulture industry and with administering the Viticulture Trust
Fund. The legislature established the Trust to be funded from fifty percent of the excise taxes collected on
wine produced by Florida manufacturers from Florida agricultural products. This fund is to be used for
promotion and research to benefit Florida's viticulture industry."
D. Viticulture Trust Fund (VTF) and the Viticulture Advisory Counsil (VAC)
This was the origin of the Viticulture Trust Fund (VTF) with the VAC directed to administer it.
The state tax collected on wine produced from Florida agricultural products (presumably mostly
grapes) would go into a Viticulture Trust Fund, half of which would be made available to
support research and promotion benefitting Florida farm wineries, vineyards, and grape growers.
(Much of the background information cited was derived from FGGA President Gary Ketchum's
Newsletter, November-December 1988). As originally proposed the VTF was set to expire in
five years 1994. Fortunately, the dynamic progress of the grape industry and resulting
economic benefits to the state led to a degree of permanence now in place. And grapes were now
a visible crop and on the FDACS agenda an essential supporter of all Florida Agriculture.
E. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)
This is the largest state department of agriculture in the country with over 3,700 employees.
FDACS has a broad and varied statutory mission in Florida that covers everything from food
safety and forestry to consumer services and aquaculture. These are in addition, of course, to the
plant and animal duties borne by most state departments of agriculture. Put another way, they
have a great deal of "boots on the ground" that can be activated quickly and efficiently to assist
federal agencies during times of crisis. The Marketing arm is well described in a number of
FDACS and linked websites
Florida Agricultural Promotion Campaign ""Fresh from Florida"
Marketing Florida Agriculture
Century Pioneer Family Farm Program (Ashley Wood, but no FGGA folks evident)
FGGA Site and Winery Directory http://www.fgga.org/
Florida Winery Map
agriculture.com/pubs/pubform/pdf/Florida Wineries And Vineyards Map.pdf
F. Small Acreage Big Results
With the Viticulture Policy Act in place and a modest but reasonably reliable source of funding
for grape projects the FGGA's attention turned to setting priorities. One was enhancing the
visibility of Florida grapes. When outsiders and even residents learn that quality grapes grow in
state, they are often surprised and then intrigued. After sampling the fruit or products, many
become regular consumers and/or enthusiastic supporters. FGGA membership consists of many
persons who, after sampling grapes, decide to grow their own, make wine, or get involved in the
Florida Grape Community. They have certainly enriched the Association and contributed
impressively. However, it is first necessary to introduce potential enthusiasts to our grapes.
The first step was a comprehensive survey of Florida grape acreage amount, location, end use,
growers, and varieties bearing, planted, or planned, etc. Much of this information existed in a
FAMU report (Savoy, 1977). However the situation changes rapidly and it is critical to
continually update the statistics from season to season a difficult task at best. An early use of
VTF support was a survey compiled by the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, published in
1990 (1989 Florida Vineyard and Winery Report). There were also plans for an FGGA
Executive Director position to handle and coordinate the anticipated increased services.
However, nothing is easy or permanent regarding legislative funding. With changes in the state
wine tax structure and vastly reduced revenues due to the wine coolers manufacturer switching
from wine-based alcohol, the VTF receipts were greatly reduced. Thus, the position of FGGA
Executive Director was not initiated (FGGA Newsletter Nov 1989) although Tom Hughes, Jr.
filled in admirably as Program Administrator. Nevertheless, important long term program
initiatives were in place and the State Fair Wine Competition was established.
An especially valuable feature of the VAC FDACS grant was the small vineyard initiation
program operated by FAMU. Those wishing to put in a small vineyard and make the necessary
commitment could obtain modest financial support and the services of professional FAMU
viticulturists in setting up a vineyard.
FAMU Grape Demonstration Project: Free set up of a 14 acre vineyard of selected muscadine grape
cultivars. FAMU provided all the necessary materials for vineyard establishment including posts, trellis
wire, irrigation tube, and grapevines etc. In addition, FAMU also provided technical support such as
designing the vineyard, demonstrating how to put the post, trellis wire together, and planting. The
participants would get the land ready and provide labor for the vineyard establishment. The project lasted
6-7 years, and a total of 94 demonstration blocks were established. (Any notable results vineyards still
in existence, expansions, etc?)
The importance of small vineyards cannot be over emphasized. We have seen some early
examples worth recalling:
Lost in time are those Floridians, Northern "Snowbirds", and retirees from the 1800s and
early 1900s who, after viewing Florida vineyards, settled here and made long term grape
Dr. Charles Demko from Missouri visited Florida in the early 1920s to attend an
optometrist meeting in St. Petersburg. He saw grapes growing and, relating to his family
vineyard in Missouri, started a vineyard, and eventually settled in Altoona.
Thomas J. Hughes, Sr. as Editor of the Florida Grower & Rancher covered a Grape
Field Day at the Leesburg Station in the early 1960s. Tom became a staunch supporter of
the FGGA, opened Tom Hughes U-Pick Vineyard east of Tampa in 1967, and became
FGGA President in 1972. Reflect upon how many visitors Tom's vineyard introduce to
Florida grapes over the years.
Esmond and Malinda Grosz operated a successful U-pick vineyard in Tennessee and
moved to Florida in the early 1970s to initiate a large planting at Orange Lake. Their U-
pick operation was instrumental in attracting visitors to grape growing. They weren't
able to follow through with winery plans, yet the Grosz's involvement in wine research
and FGGA administration had long- term, continuing industry benefits.
Rosa and Antonio Fiorelli typify another approach where the business emphasis is a
farm winery. At Rosa Fiorelli Winery near Bradenton visitors are introduced to all
aspects of viniculture, from vine propagation to finished wine. As active supporters of the
FGGA and the Manatee County Chapter the Fiorelli's provide demonstrations on all
aspects of grape growing and wine making; their operation serves the grape community
well (Geraci, 2000).
We'll continue to survey existing and former grape growers to build this list.
There are a number of ways to popularize Florida Grapes and all are important. Some are
traditional, having evolved with the FGGA. Others are the fairly recent result of the Viticulture
Policy Act and FGGA program initiatives. These are:
1. Grape Field Days as sponsored by the research establishment The University of Florida
at the Leesburg Station routinely had a Bunch Grape Field Day each July when the bunch
grapes ripened and a second one in August, Muscadine Field Day when the muscadines
came in. That research vineyard no longer exists, but the operation is now at the Apopka
Station. Similarly, the FAMU research facility and experimental vineyard near
Tallahassee has initiated popular annual open house/vineyard events.
2. U-pick vineyards offer customers the opportunity to observe grapes on the vine, select
their own fruit, and most importantly talk to the grower and other grape aficionados in the
vineyard. These are friendly, sociable people whose enthusiasm for their crop is
contagious. They'll talk about varieties, propagation techniques, and maybe even have a
little wine around or show you how to make your own.
3. Harvest Festivals are sponsored by individual wineries, private growers, and/or FGGA
County Chapters. These events highlight grapes, grape products and the fascinating
people involved and are fun, popular events that put Florida grapes in the headlines.
Modest VAC grant support encourages sponsors to get people out in the vineyards.
4. The Annual FGGA Winter Conference likewise attracts attention. Although the vines are
barren, then is the time for pruning and preparing for the next crop. Also, wine from the
previous season is aging well and may be ready for sampling, so there is much to learn
indoors and in the vineyard.
5. The Florida State Fair Commercial and Hobby Wine Competitions are extremely popular
annual events that now attract over a thousand commercial entrants, several hundred
hobby entries, and thousands of visitors to view the competition. The FGGA information
booth at the fair, staffed by knowledgeable, enthusiastic FGGA members is also well
6. Wine making workshops and hobby wine competitions serve as additional reminders of
uses for local grapes.
7. Florida Farm Wineries are popular tourist (and resident) attractions. They are open year
round and serve as a constant reminder of what can be done with Florida grapes
8. Promotional literature and recently information on the Internet can help make the general
public aware that "Yes, grapes do grow in Florida, they're a fine crop and you should
sample our grapes and grape products, maybe put a few vine in yourself'. In this regard
the FDACS Marketing Division has an excellent campaign to introduce and popularize
all Florida agricultural products. "Fresh from Florida" means a lot in quality and
availability. In addition, through the VAC, in print or on line
(http://www.fgga.org/index.html) is information on U-pick vineyards, nurseries for grape
vines, and winery brochures. Unobtrusive highway signs in the vicinity of commercial
vineyards and wineries are another helpful indication that travelers are in Florida Grape
Although the VTF funds are modest, especially compared to that generated by major grape
growing states, by careful project selection and execution, the promotional results have been
There are three small vineyards, all in Putnam County that played a very big role in the viability
of the FGGA over the last 3 decades. All were planted way before the VAC incentives were in
place and served as effective "Grape Magnets" far beyond county lines.
The Putnam County Chapter of the FGGA was the first and it is still quite active. In fact, the
County was a major center of grape expansion in both the 1890s and 1920s with considerable
activity. A Chapter there was first mentioned in a NewsClip 3-22 1928 and later
(FlaTimesUnion, 64 Jan27 Pg.6 1929; and Aug 19 Pg. 3). Of course there was no continuity, but
from the late 1960s there were a number of vineyards initiated, including Meadomere Farms by
Felicity Trueblood in Melrose, Comer Vineyards by George Comer in Grandin, and the
Sirvent's vineyard in Florahome, followed around 2007 by Tangle Oaks Winery, Grandin and
Log Cabin Winery in Satsuma around 2008.
The first was Meadowmere Farms, a 3 acre vineyard planted by Felicity Trueblood in 1976. She
was close to vines while growing up in France and Chile, so grapes came naturally and Florida
benefitted. Meadowmere, a popular U-pick designation in Melrose, was named after the family
homestead in Scotland. Curiously, in the 1970s Felicity had to include cattle on her farm to
qualify for farm zoning. Fortunately, stand-alone vineyards now qualify. Felicity Trueblood
served as FGGA Secretary for many years and was instrumental in developing Harvest Festivals.
These events are based on the social nature of community U-pick ventures where participants
share knowledge on all aspects of grapes varieties, cultivation, wine making, etc.
After the season Felicity held an informal annual wine tasting at her farm. The wine, together
with superb music from local talent was an excellent venue for introducing locals to Florida
grapes (Figures 51 & 52). Five people shown are or were intimately involved in Florida grapes,
probably because of events as shown.
Figure 51. Meadowmere Farm get-together. (Front left, Bob Thropp, now proprietor of Log
Cabin Vineyard and Winery, Satsuma; Felicity Trueblood; Back to, John Sirvent, proprietor
Sirvent Vineyard, facing George Comer, owner of former Comer Farms.
Figure 52. Meadowmere Farm get-together. (George Comer presiding)
Around the same time George Comer, a retired Marine put in a 3 acre muscadine U-pick
vineyard in Grandin. George had a strong interest in wine and jellies and experimented
intensively. Soon he was making very well regarded muscadine wines. As an active member of
the FGGA, he championed wine workshops and was instrumental in organizing the Hobby
section of the Florida State Fair Wine and Juice Competition. Through these competitions in
Tampa, George influenced many attendees to turn to grapes and later helped the Highlands
County FGGA Chapter get started.
The third Putnam County vineyard in Florahome is more recent, dating from 1990 and continues
to attract people to grapes. John and Lois Sirvent have combined their three acre U-pick
vineyard with a popular home wine and beer supply business a very appropriate attraction
where customers can get grapes and enology supplies. Just as important, visitors can get wine
making advice (Figure 53). Over the years the number of winemakers (beer also) attracted by the
Sirvent's enthusiasm have increased as well as the quality of the resulting winemaking efforts
which is impressive and reflected in hobby competition awards (Promotional material).
Figure 53. Tasting, Sirvent's Vineyard
Based on the influence of these three small vineyards and the capable services of the committed
proprietors, who typify the best in Florida grape growers, there are several new wineries in
Putnam County and many customers are now FGGA members and either growing grapes or
making wine and favorably inclined toward the crop.
Another recent illustrative example contributing to Florida grapes promotion has been the
Highlands County Chapter of the FGGA. The Chapter evolved in 1997 from a Highlands County
Master Gardeners class, taught by Davis DeVoll, County Horticulturist, attended by Jerry
Million and Don and Mary Johnson. They were joined by another grape enthusiast, Bob
Walker. These participants, most semi retired and grape knowledgeable were persuaded by
George Comer, president of the Putnam County Chapter of the FGGA to form a County
Chapter. The first meeting, October 1997 attracted 26 prospective members. Popular events,
such as the 1998 seminar, "Growing and Marketing Muscadine Grapes", sponsored by the
Highlands FGGA Chapter, attracted close to 100 participants After 10 years of activities,
membership stood at about 150. Most were also active in FGGA events such as the Annual
Meetings and State Fair Wine Competitions. Meetings consisted of practical grape cultivation
and wine making/tasting workshops offered by specialists from the USDA, Florida A&M
University, University of Florida, and Lakeridge Winery. Upon occasion experienced grape
growers provided input and encouraged planting and visits to their vineyards. George Comer
and Bob and Bonnie Jeanne Paulish in particular offered advice and their resources.
The establishment of Henscratch Farm and Vineyard in 199? by Joanne Lauchman sparked
the chapter and grape events in Highland County rapidly expanded with several more vineyards
and the opening of the Henscratch Winery (Figure 54).
Figure 54. Promotional Information from Henscratch Farm
Semiretired is certainly a misnomer as applied to grape aficionados. In fact, many of the past and
current Florida grape pioneers turned to grapes after prominent (often parallel with) careers in
other fields. These individuals contributed personal insights and diverse skills entrepreneurial,
business, management, computer, and most important leadership. The FGGA and the industry
are much better for it.
The other VAC funding thrust is research, a less visible, but no less important priority. Small
grants to both UF and FAMU scientists are increasing the grape knowledge base. For example,
the annual research results as reported in the Annual Meeting of the South East Regional -
Information Exchange Group devoted to grapes (SERA-14 IEG) at: http://sera-ieg-14.tamu.edu/
indicate that Florida grape research is serving not only the state, but the entire South. Of course,
even before the founding of the FGGA, since the early days of the State Agriculture Experiment
system and USDA involvement in Von Luttichau's operation, the state and nation have
supported viticulture research in Florida (FlaAgExpStaReport, P.ll1 1891; FlaStateHortSoc
18:60-62, 1905). The results are well reflected in the Bibliography.
G. The Romance of the Vine
Grapes and wine are inevitably linked, and have been since ancient times. In a pragmatic sense,
grapes sell wine and wine sells grapes. The synergistic relation between fresh grapes and the
most popular processed product is evident in U-pick vineyards. Customers often are picking to
make wine, usually encouraged by the owner, who likely has enology experience and sometimes
offerings. The FGGA has greatly benefitted from this relationship, which was most eloquently
expressed by H.J. de Blii, 1987:
"The growing of grapes for the purpose of making wine involves terrains and tradition, climate and
culture, experience and experiment. Viticulture is not simple another form of farming. As the ripening
grape's sugar content and acid balance change, environmental hazards to the vintage intensify. Every
harvest becomes an exercise in game theory in which timing is the key."
"Thus the creation of a superior wine is not merely a matter of harvesting the crop and packaging the
product. It is a complex process that begins in the vineyard, continues in the winery, and concludes in the
bottle. Such a wine can be one of civilization's highest achievements, a work of art as well as science; it is
to the senses of smell and taste what painting is to the eye and music to the ear."
What successful vintner doesn't echo that sentiment? Nevertheless, there is a downside in the
establishment of commercial wineries. It is a very challenging enterprise from a legal, economic,
and business standpoint. "It's a damnsite easier to make good wine that it is to sell it, but the
converse is unacceptable." (Bates, frequent citation). Many wine enthusiasts with good business
sense and impressive accomplishments in other endeavors seem to throw caution to the wind
when considering setting up a winery. A substantial part of advising such would-be winery
owners is to dissuade them from pursuing the idea, or at least researching all aspects of the
venture very, very carefully.
This is not just a local phenomenon, since diving head first into the wine business occurs
frequently and everywhere that grapes are grown- and some places where they're not. As
indicated, out of the five promising Florida wineries that started or expanded operations in the
early 1980's (Bates, 1983), none are in existence today. Yet the industry progressed as others
move in to take their place (Bates, et al, 1990). Not all experienced financial (Chapter 11)
difficulties, nor was the quality of the wine the failure factor. Distribution, sales, and the 24-7
routine were more to blame; several principles essentially withdrew for health reasons.
Sitting on your patio overlooking an attractive vineyard while sipping your finest wines with
impressed visitors is the reward sought by all vintners, but that's very hard to earn. So it certainly
isn't an easy business, yet those who survive and persevere, seem to be well rewarded. Currently
there are about 17 Farm Wineries in Florida and a few more in the planning stage (FDACS,
2008). We hope that looking back a few decades hence will show that all these vintners entered
cautiously and were amply rewarded for their optimism, perseverance, and efforts.
H. Vinifera Chauvinism
It is clear from earlier discourse that many early grape pioneers didn't think much of muscadines,
Figure 28 (Husmann, 1883 pg 78) or even labrusca/hybrid bunch grapes. Speaking of wild
bunch grapes "But the fruit that they produce is often deficient in sugar, or high in acid, and sometimes
full of strange flavors, so that the wine pressed from it is thin, unstable, sharp, and unpleasing-if
drinkable at all. Wine from the unadulterated native grape is not wine at all by the standards of Vitis
vinifera ." (Pinnev, 1989 pa 6).
This is a continuing world-wide phenomenon, in part due to the exceptional quality of vinifera
grapes and wines coming from successful growing regions. The several millennia cultivation and
enological experience with that species didn't hurt either. Florida is an especially good training
ground for vinifera aficionados. Newcomers are going to try anyway and old timers are waiting
for the Holy Grail that rugged vinifera, resistant to PD and all other Florida environmental
challenges. (Fresh and wine quality vinifera varieties with the cultivation ease of the best
Unfortunately, there's a mindset among most wine connoisseurs that premium wine can only be
made from Vitis vinifera. That "only" is not the case. With several thousand years of
experience, vinifera has a head start, but as Emil DuBois showed over 100 years ago, and others
continually demonstrate, highly acceptable wines can be produced from bunch hybrids and
muscadines. A good example from the South is Virginia. More than any eastern state, Virginia
has a climate suitable for many vitis species far enough south to avoid severe cold and far
enough north to avoid the hot humid summers (especially in the highlands). Vinifera, labrusca,
hybrids, and muscadines do well there.
Nevertheless, in Virginia there was a Vinifera Wine Growers Association and an accompanying
Vinifera Wine Growers Journal (now ceased publication) devoted exclusively to vinifera.
Initially it was sacrilege to mention any other Vitis species. [This stance softened appreciably in
time, before the journal ceased publication.] Similarly, one of the first 19th century wine pioneers
in New York State wouldn't give any credence to non vinifera. Unfortunate, since 'Cayuga
White' a hybrid developed at Cornell University can match most vinifera white wine. Both states
can produce excellent wine more economically from hybrids equal to their vinifera offerings.
In fairness to winemakers, customers often ask for common varietals and it's a real sales job to
dissuade them. In fact, wineries in several southern states that do an impressive job with hybrids
have taken the more technical and costly challenge of growing vinifera. Sadly, at the expense of
their successful hybrids which made at least as good, if not better wines. Nevertheless, the
vinifera tradition prevails for sound business reasons
When, and it is inevitable, scientists at the Apopka Station and FAMU develop vinifera cultivars
or cultivation procedures with satisfactory Pierce's disease resistance, quality attributes, and
cultivation economics, the same may occur in Florida. Hopefully, not at the expense of those
Stover/Mortensen non-vinifera hybrids and fine muscadine varieties that pulled the industry out
of the 1930s doldrums. And not precluding the exciting potential of combining the inherent
ruggedness of native wild grapes with the modem tools of the grape geneticist to rapidly screen
and achieve superior bunch, even muscadine hybrids.
VIII. THE NEW MILLENNIUM
We're not quite one decade into the New Millennium, so let's look back a hundred years to
1908. This was a very low point for Florida grapes, lower even than the nadir that occurred about
25 years later. At least in 1933 the groundwork for breeding successes was being established.
The first Grape Euphoria had faded
Dubois had left Florida, and other vocal supporters were silent
County prohibition was increasing and the worst, National Prohibition, was yet to come
The FSHS proceedings had neither a grape committee nor any grape reports
Missing from the FSHS officers listing and membership roster were those viticulturists
who reported so frequently and enthusiastically a few years earlier. [Only W.C. Steele
and H. von Luttichau were still listed (FlaStateHortSoc Proc. 21:7-10, 1908), probably
as practicing nurserymen and horticulturists with other fruit interests.]
Munson's hybrids were a decade away from widespread distribution
Truly, grapes were in limbo.
Fast forward to 2008 what hasn't changed?
We now have a good (but not perfect) understanding of Vine Decline, aka Pierce's
A number of promising varieties with PD resistance are available, with others in the
Vineyard management practices are understood with viticulturist capable of improving
and disseminating this information
Means of eliminating, or at least managing other environmental threats to grapes exist
A viable state association is devoted to promoting the grape industry FGGA
Two universities with a grape research and extension mandate are involved UF and
FAMU, with additional USDA support
Through the Internet and advances in information technology, researchers now have
practically instant access to grape findings on a global basis
A Florida agriculture department with an effective marketing thrust involving grapes is at
A number of viable Farm Wineries utilizing and selling wine from Florida grapes are
located statewide and garnering competition awards in and out of Florida
The state and tourist population are favorably inclined toward local grapes and grape
Thanks to the Viticulture Policy Act, there are modest grape research and promotional
funds and a system for prioritizing industry needs is in place VTF via VAC
Florida has many as yet unidentified potential grape enthusiasts, needing only
information and encouragement to get them started growing and/or utilizing local grapes
There is a grass roots movement to buy local instead of relying upon energy intensive
transportation systems that tap the global food supply. This is not a fad and should
certainly include grapes
The phytochemicals in Florida grapes and wine, especially muscadines, have health
benefits that are at least equal to other grape species
Over a century of change, that's an impressive list of favorable features. Thanks to the people
we've identified as prime movers in the Florida Grape Community (and some we've
neglected or been less successful in identifying or highlighting) the industry has come a long
way. And there's a ways to go. Will grapes ever rival citrus? Hardly, and citrus is in decline
as Florida becomes more and more an urban state with agriculture coming under
environmental, regulatory, labor, land, and political pressure. The destruction of wild grape
habitats has accelerated far beyond that which early viticulturists, who worried about that
possibility, could ever have imagined.
So a combination of fresh and old challenges face the Florida Grape Industry. Where do we
go from here? Let's look to the past with an eye to the future.
IX. WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THE PAST IS IT A PROLOG?
First, Grape Euphoria works two ways. It, "The Romance of the Vine" gives grapes an advantage
over practically all other food and industrial crops. It attracts talented people to grapes and
instills them with remarkable enthusiasm and a strong commitment. When tempered by careful
planning, patience, fortitude, focused efforts (hard work), and reasonable expectations, grapes
folks can succeed. Otherwise, as the previous busts demonstrate the outcome can be sad, if not
tragic. The grape business in Florida is not for wimps!
In fact, it must be a multi-generation endeavor. Many of the grape pioneers cited eventually ran
out of time, with age and health considerations terminating their efforts. Even recently the
momentum, provided by some prime movers within the FGGA, whose ideas and leadership set
such good examples, has been lost when they were no longer around. Turnover is inevitable, and
we'd best plan accordingly.
Consider the makeup of the current FGGA membership or Board of Directors. The average age
is certainly over 60 and increasing. Two authors of this publication well exceed that, and a major
reason for this treatise. It is very important that young folks with an enthusiasm and commitment
to grapes be attracted to the field. It is no exaggeration that the past booms and busts could have
been ameliorated (not necessarily eliminated) had there been a new generation cognizant of the
cultivation, marketing, and other stifling problems around to step in. Continuity is key, and
required today as much as in the past.
We're amused by the fable of Ponce De Leon scouring Florida in search of "The Fountain of
Youth", a biologically unachievable goal that violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Yet
shouldn't any organization with an important mission that wishes to survive and thrive insure
itself by doing the next best thing to drinking from that Fountain of Youth? Namely, devote
continuing effort and resources to the next and future generations of the Florida Grape
There will be breakthroughs with advanced science and technology to combat grape cultivation
issues, albeit no magic bullet to make grape growing "idiot proof' or even as comparatively
straight forward as in prime vinifera country. Still, as we have seen in good times and bad,
people are just as important. Where are these future Florida Grape Pioneers, and what can we do
to attract and motivate them?
Based on the cited Florida grape history and the endeavors of past pioneers, here are a few
1. Continuity of FGGA administration One of the most dynamic and progressive
periods of the FGGA occurred when Florence Hall was President and subsequently the
Viticulture Policy Act was initiated. The people, who came together at that time and shortly
after, did an amazing job of attracting people and resources to grapes. The Viticulture Trust Fund
(VTF) provided the incentive and set the stage for viable program that continue today Harvest
Festivals, planting incentives, research and promotion projects. Nevertheless, there was one
proposed, but missing component.
Originally an FGGA Executive Director was proposed, but not initiated due to less than
anticipated VTF funding. John Holloway, as President managed to obtain support for a part time
Program Administrator. That person was Tom Hughes, Jr. who performed admirably in
handling the Newsletter, Conferences, and State Fair Wine Competition for about 18 months.
When Tom moved on, he left a legacy and gap that has not been completely filled, despite the
good, capable services of later Presidents, Board of Directors, and volunteers.
The FGGA needs an Executive Director someone (ideally full time) to work with elected
FGGA Officers and volunteers. We owe a debt of gratitude to Tom Hughes, Jr. who set the
standard for such a position. In the name of continuity and efficiency we feel that someone of
Tom's caliber is essential, if the FGGA is to realize and continue the full potential of the Florida
2. Continuity of research efforts Where would we be today without the fore mentioned
research? Clearly this is essential in good times and bad. As reflected in recent Southeast grape
research reports, many Southern states have more going on than Florida (SERA-14 IEG
http://sera-ieg-14.tamu.edu/; http://winegrapes.tamu.edu/resources/resources.html). Those
FGGA folks who went to Tallahassee in 1931-33 and 1977 -89 accomplished much, yet there's
much to do. If Florida seedless bunch and muscadine grapes or PD resistant vinifera are to be a
reality, it'll most likely have to come from Florida scientists. Those impressive grape research
establishments elsewhere won't do it for us. Even dramatic breakthroughs will have to be
3. Continuity of extension and outreach Hand-in-hand with research are dissemination
of information and promotion of grape programs. It's a constant battle to enhance grape visibility
and profitability. County extension agents have been national agents of change in agriculture for
well over a century. Grapes in Florida have benefitted from the dedicated individuals mentioned
previously. Whether they're supporting or leading programs, extension professionals are
essential catalysts worth encouraging. It's important to note that extension works two ways.
Agents provide information, but they and the research establishment also learn from progressive
growers that "open source" system at work.
4. Munson's $10 Prize In 1882 T.V. Munson offered a $10 prize for the best quality
wild grape for inclusion in his breeding program (Munson, 1909 pg 184). What a great idea!
Although wild habitats have shrunk appreciably over the last century, surely wild grapes exist in
Florida, perhaps now interbred with surviving failed introductions. Nature is always
experimenting, so it behooves us to take advantage of it. Of course, $10 isn't much of an
incentive now, yet some comparable incentive and popularization might be worth the effort, both
in tangible findings and grape promotion.
5. Attractive local events The activities of FGGA County Chapters wax and wane with
the local leadership. We've seen what can be accomplished in Putman and Highlands Counties
and by several wineries in grape focused Harvest Festivals or promotional events. Despite the
less than ideal environment of a Florida vineyard during summer harvest, there are innovative
ways of attracting the public and turning them on to Florida grapes. It's a never ending task, but
worthy of the grape community.
6. Vine distribution In 1955 the Orlando Sentinel, in cooperation with the Leesburg
Station and local growers, sponsored a program to provide the newly released and PD resistant
'Lake Emerald' vines and planting instructions to the public at cost (Orlando Sentinel 1955). The
14,000 vines at $1.00 apiece sold out rapidly. Could a similar program be initiated to accompany
the release of new or highly popular varieties now? Even one vine, well cared for in an urban
back yard, counts as a grape grower remember the Romance of the Vine.
7. Balance wine and fresh grape promotion Since well before Prohibition there has been
conflict between grapes and wine, and there always will be, depending upon the life style of
those involved. Grapes are a versatile crop with many uses, with wine being only one. Since the
VTF is generated by the tax on Florida wines, it is natural that the wineries have a claim on these
funds, but not at the exclusion of fresh market, U-pick, or other interests. Our philosophy
"Grapes sell wine and wine sells grapes" leaves plenty of room for individual choice. It must be
a win-win situation; a healthy industry demands it.
8. Buy locally and healthily The present trend in food consumption favors sustainability
and a new term, "Locavore" is in vogue. This means buying and consuming locally grown crops
for economic and environmental reasons. Farmers markets and local growers see an appreciable
increase in sales, even from nearby urban dwellers to whom agriculture is a foreign yet appealing
concept. This is not a fad and the FGGA should be proactively involved and cognizant of the
attendant food safety and legal implications. In addition, grapes and wine are now recognized as
having health benefits that go far beyond basic nutrition (Pezzuto, 2008). This is particularly the
case with red, purple, or black colored grapes, and especially black and even a few bronze
colored muscadine grape cultivars whose desirable phytochemical profile is exceptionally high
in the compound ellagic acid (Lee and Talcott, 2004) and its various precursors (Lee at al.,
2005). Ellagic acid is present in many common and exotic foods such as raspberries,
blackberries, strawberries, pomegranates, and several types of nuts. Ellagic acid has been
identified as one of several important compounds in muscadine grapes that may potentially help
to prevent cancer, coronary heart disease, and inflammation (Mertens-Talcott et al., 2006) and
makes becoming a locavore by muscadine grape consumption a welcomed advantage.
9. Keep the FGGA viable Since it was founded betweenl916 to1923, (take your pick of
the actual year) membership has varied from around 100 to over 300. While quality is more
important than quantity, numbers and involvement drive programs, so member recruitment and
retention are always issues. The newsletters on an annual basis remind readers to renew
membership it's a never ending task. The Internet make dialog with members and potential
members both easier and more difficult, as anyone inundated by e-mail can attest. That
"Fountain of Youth" doesn't exist. Attracting new blood, especially committed young folks to
viticulture, encouraging their efforts, and maintaining enthusiasm is the closest alternative. How
do we do it? We hope these cited examples from the past will help.
B. The 30 Year Itch
It certainly wasn't evident when we initiated this article, or even during the final organization
and editing. But by now there seems to be a curious trend in the ups and downs of grapes in
Florida occurring at approximately 30 year intervals. As noted, the first Grape Euphoria centered
about the mid 1890s, the second around mid 1920s. We detect a third in the mid 1950s after the
release of 'Lake Emerald'. The fourth was mid 1980s as wineries expanded.
Each peak was followed by a downturn that lasted about a decade before grape interest perked
up. The dip was devastating in the late 1890s and 1920s, but less so in the 1950s and 1980s, but
does it take a stretch of imagination to suggest that it occurred? With Stover's release of 'Lake
Emerald'in 1954, Florida finally had a PD resistant bunch grape, with more in succession. This
was not a fluke, since 'Lake Emerald' vines have been shown to survive 30 years. None of the
Stover-Mortensen releases are nearly as hardy as muscadines. Rolfs was right it takes
exceptional care to keep them going, and only the most astute patient, viticulturist (and there are
some) will persevere (Rofls, 1935). Florida bunch hybrid grapes are also a more costly
proposition than muscadine growing, roughly twice the cultivation expense. Yet, those new
releases didn't explode and result in the predicted large industry -just as dooryard vines and
small commercial and experimental plantings. But, as in the 1940s, critical backstopping efforts
at public and private institutions were underway.
New and high quality varieties continued to be developed at Leesburg and wine research and
workshops provided incentive for a new generation of viticulturists and enologists. Then it
happened again. By the mid 1980s there were a number of bunch and muscadine based vineyards
and wineries on the scene enough so that Leon Adams visited Florida and wrote favorably
about them in his 3rd Edition, Wines ofAmerica, 1985. The endeavors of FGGA members were
successful, as reflected with the Viticulture Policy Act in place and Viticulture Trust Funds
About that time the existing wineries were experiencing financial difficulty. Most were out of
business, not due to wine quality or vine decline, simply because of work overload and sales
issues. Promising, viable fresh market options, primarily with muscadines were just getting off
the ground, but also suffered due to distribution difficulties and high expenses. [Cultivation costs
are substantially lower in neighboring southern states with larger vineyards, lower land costs,
and less severe climate-induced stress.]
So where are we now; and is a peak due around 2015? Certainly, there is a build up of adequate
(not ideal) bunch and muscadine varieties. Scientists at both UF and FAMU are making progress
on variety development, cultivation problems, and grape molecular biology. Surviving and new
wineries are doing OK, and the VTF provides some funding for promotion and research.
However, the current global financial crisis doesn't promote short-term optimism. As we view
that 30 year cycle, at least since 1950 the downturn has been relatively modest. Let's see what
develops during the next decade.
OK, this brings us to a pause, certainly not the end in Florida' fascinating grape history; much is
ahead to be written by others. It will be interesting times We invite you to add to this story!
[Information and details are being solicited from FGGA members and their relatives in order to
allow us to fill in gaps and extend this text to the present and keep it current.]
Articles in green have not been scanned and are available from library sources. All others are
either in the Bibliography-Chronology or on line at the indicated Web address. However, some
are in limited access Internet sites. All volumes of Florida State Horticulture Society are
available at www.fshs.org
Adlerz, Warren C. and Donald L. Hopkins, 1979. Natural infectivity of two sharpshooter vectors of
Pierce's disease of grape in Florida. J. Econ. Entomol. 72(6):916-919.
Adlerz, Warren C., 1980. Ecological observations on two leafhoppers that transmit the Pierce's disease
bacterium. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc., 93:115-120.
Adlerz, Warren C. and Donald L. Hopkins, 1981a. Grape insects and diseases in Florida. Proc. Fla.
State Hort. Soc. 94:331-336.
Alvers and Mahaffey, 1995. Our Place in Time: a chronology by Nancy Cooley Alvers and Janice Smith
Mahaffey. Palatka Printing Co. p25.
Balerdi, Carlos F.; Mortensen, John A. 1973. Suitability for mechanical harvest in cultivars of
muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx). Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 86:342-344, 1973
Barnett, Cynthia, 2008. A Tough Row to Hoe for IFAS." Florida Trend.com. 1 Aug. 8 Sept. 2008.
Bates, Robert P. and John A. Mortensen, 1969. Processing research with Florida-grown grape cultivars.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 82:182-187.
Bates, Robert P., John A. Mortensen, and Timothy E. Crocker, 1980. Florida grapes: the next decade.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 93:120-124.
Bates, Robert P. 1983. The emerging Florida wine industry. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 96:215-219.
Bates, R. P.; C.A. Sims; D. J. Gray; J. A. Mortensen; P. C Andersen,1990. The Florida grape industry:
What's ahead in the '90s? Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 103:302-306.
Beach, John B. 1916. The Avocado in Florida. Rep.No.2. California Avocado Association. 165-68.
http://www.avocadosource.com/CAS Yearbooks/CAS 02 1916/CAS 1916 PG 165-168.pdf
Bidwell, A. J. 1876. Grape Culture. Appendix. 263-266. In Florida: its scenery, climate, and history
with an account of Charleston, Savannah, Augusta, and Alken; a chapter for consumptive,
various papers on fruit-culture; and a complete hand-book and guide. (By Sudney Lanier,
published by J. B. Lippincott & Co., original from University of Michigan) Also available on
N9TQPRrBI DelaFAQOg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book result&resnum= 1&ct=result#PPA47,M1
Buchholz, F. W., 1929. History of Alachua County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical. St. Augustine,
FL: The Record Company. pp. 178-9, 343.
Corse, Carita Doggett, 1935. Shrine of the Water Gods. 14, 26, 39. 2005 A State University System of
Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University of Florida Digital Library
Center, Gainesville. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword: Grapes.
Craig, J.A.,1875. Vineyard in Middle Florida. Semi-Tropical 1:18-20.
Cresap, Ida Keeling, 1982. The History of Florida Agriculture: The Early Era. Gainesville, FL. 2001 A
State University System of Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University of
Florida Libraries, Gainesville. 8 Sept. 2008. http://fulltextl0.fcla.edu/cgi/t/text/text-
Davidson, James W., 1889 Chapt. X, ppl52-54. The Florida of To-day: A Guide for Tourists and
Settlers. New York: D. Appleton. 152-54. 2002. A State University System of Florida PALMM
Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University of Central Florida Libraries, Orlando. 8 Sept.
2008. Keyword: DuBois.
De Blij, H. J., 1987. Viticulture and Viniculture in the Southeastern United States. Southeastern
Geographer, 27(2) 115-130.
Dearing, Charles, 1920. Muscadine Grapes and Grape Products. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 33: 146-153.
Dearing, Charles, 1922. Grape Growing in Florida. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 35:121-126.
DePass, Rev. Jas. P., 1891. Grapes. Annual Report-Horticulture. Expt. Sta. of Fla. at the State Agric.
College, Lake City, FL., Bulletin No. 14. p. 11.
Dickey, R. D.; Loucks, Kenneth W., 1938. Grape growing in Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta., UF,
Gainesville. Bulletin 324.
Dickey, R. D.; Stover, Loren H.; Parris, G. K., 1947. Grape growing in Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta.,
UF, Gainesville. Bulletin 436 (a revision of Bulletin 324).
Fairbanks, George R.,1868 pp 32, 35, 96. Spaniards in Florida. Jacksonville, FL: Columbus Drew. 32,
35, 96. A State University System of Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection.
University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword: Grapes.
http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/fulltext?c=fhp&idno=UF00000019 00001 &view=toc&subview=fullcitat
Fennell, Joseph L., 1938. Breeding Experiments with the South Florida Native Grapes. Proc. Fla. State
Hort. Soc. 51:73-76.
Ferleger, Lou.,1990. Uplifting American Agriculture: Experiment Station Scientists and the Office of
Experiment Stations in the Early Years after the Hatch Act. Agricultural History 64: 5-23. Jstor.
http://www.j stor.org/stable/info/3 743792? seq 1
Fisher, H. T., 1922. Can grapes be successfully grown in Florida? Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 35:131-
Fisher, Hiram T.,1924. Bunch Grapes in Florida. 2nd ed. Eustis, Florida: Lake Region Printing Co.
Florida Agric. Expt. Sta. Report, 1891, pp 11-12.
Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, 2008. Certified Florida Wineries Map
agriculture.com/pubs/pubform/pdf/Florida Wineries And Vineyards Map.pdf
Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services. "History." 8 Sept. 2008
Florida Department of State. 2003-2008. State Library & Archives of Florida. 8 Sept. 2008
Florida Grape Growers Association. 8 Sept. 2008 http://www.fgga.org/index.html
Florida Wineries and Vineyards. Florida-Agriculture.com. 8 Sept. 2008 http://www.florida-
Gainesville Florida in Picture and Prose, 1925. pp 1, 4, 20, 33. [ Yes, grapes grew in Alachua County!]
A State University System of Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University
of Florida Libraries, Gainesville. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword: Grapes.
http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/fulltext?c=fhp&idno=UF000 17058 00001 &view=toc&subview=fullcitat
Geraci, V.W., 2000. The Family Wine-Farm: Vinitibusiness Style. Agriculture History 74(2)419-32.
Gissendaner, Paul H.1996, pg 134, 146. Proposed Location of The 1565 French Huguenot Fort Le
Caroline. Florida Anthropologist 49: 131-48. http://fulltextl0.fcla.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-
idx?c=fhp;cc=fhp;sid=d522b214cce 7a82f7a768c6ea633ec5 q =grapes%2A;q=grapes%2A;rgn
=full%20text;idno=SN00153893 0049 003;a=48:view=pdf;node=SN00153893 0049 003%3A
6;seq=24 or Proposed Location Of The 1565 French Huguenot Fort Le Caroline Page 134.
Gladwin, Fred E., 1931. A History of Grape Growing in the Eastern United States. The Rural New
Yorker. E Commons @ Cornell. Comell University. 8 Sept. 2008
Goldy, R.G. and W. B. Nesbitt, 1985. 'Nesbitt' Muscadine Grape. HortScience 20(4)777.
Gore, Mahlon, 1891, pp 39-45. A pen and camera sketch of Orlando, Florida, Orlando, FL: Orange
County Reporter, Oct. 39. 2005. A State University System of Florida PALMM Project. Florida
Heritage Collection. University of Central Florida Libraries, Orlando. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword:
Gray, D.J. 2001. 110 Years of Grape Publications from the University of Florida/IFAS
1891- 2001 http://www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/grapes/Grape 11 OYrIFASPubRev.pdf
Gray, D. J., Z.T. Li, S. A. Dhekney, M. Dutt, D. L. Hopkins, T. W. Zimmerman, 2007. Field testing of
transgenic grapevine for bacterial and fungal disease resistance. HortScience 42:858.
Grosz Jr., E. A., Robert P. Bates, and John A. Mortensen, 1973. Wines from Florida grapes. Proc. Fla.
State Hort. Soc. 86:264-270.
Grosz Jr., E. A.; Crocker, Timothy E., 1974. Sales, marketing and profitability of a small pick-your-own
vineyard. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 87:365-367.
Halbrooks, Mary C. and John A. Mortensen, 1989. Origin and Significance of Florida Hybrid Bunch
Grapes and Rootstocks. HortScience 24: 546-560.
Hall, F. 1976. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 89:253-254. Planting and care of hybrid muscadine.
Harcourt, Helen, 1886. Florida Fruits and How to Raise Them. Chapter 24 Grapes pp 241-249.
Louisville, KY: John P. Morton and Company. 241-249. 2002. A State University System of
Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University of Central Florida Libraries,
Orlando. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword: Grapes.
Hendricks, R., 2004. Viticulture in El Paso del Norte during the Colonial Period. Agriculture History
78(2) 191-200. http://www.j stor. org/stable/3744900
Hopkins, Donald L. and Hilton H. Mollenhauer, 1973. Rickettsia-like bacterium associated with Pierce's
disease of grapes. Sciencel79: 298-300.
Hopkins, Donald L., 1977. Diseases caused by leafhopper-borne rickettsia-like bacteria. Ann. Rev.
Hume, H. Harold, 1911, pg 290... Citrus Fruits and Their Culture. 4th ed. New York: Orange Judd
n+luttichau&source=web&ots=sl 8WfOiOu &sig=PQrpUvDL1S RoNMImSahVwB 1 dHg&hl=
en&sa=X&oi=book result&resnum= 10&ct=result#PPA290,M1
Husmann, George, 1883. American Grape Growing and Wine Making: With Several Added Chapters on
the Grape Industries of California.
Husmann, George C., 1916. Muscadine Grapes. USDA Farmer's Bulletin 709: 1-28.
Husmann, George C., 1932. Grape districts and varieties in the United States. USDA Farmer's Bulletin
Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, 1982. 50th Anniversary 1931/1981Agricultural Research
Center, Leesburg. WG-82-1.
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2008. University of Florida IFAS.
IFAS, 2008. Mid-Florida Research and Education Center. "Grape Genetics and Pathology Research
Program." University of Florida IFAS. Cultivar Release Bulletins. 8 Sept. 2008
Johnson, Miriam W., Rosemary Y. Young. 1984. Clermont, Gem of the Hills: A History of Clermont,
Florida, and Neighboring Communities. 1st Edition. M.W. Johnson, Clermont, FL.
Lee, J.H., Talcott, S. T. 2004. Fruit Maturity and Juice Extraction Influences Ellagic Acid Derivatives
and Other Antioxidant Polyphenolics in Muscadine Grapes. Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry. 52, 361-366.
Lee, J.H., Johnson, J.V., Talcott, S.T. 2005. Identification of Ellagic Acid Conjugates and Other
Polyphenolics in Muscadine Grapes by HPLC-ESI-MS. Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry, 53, 6003-6010.
Lewis, Carolyn Baker, 1979. Cultural Conservatism and Pioneer Florida Viticulture. Agricultural
History, Vol. 53, No. 3, (Jul.,), pp. 622-636: Agricultural History Society Stable. URL:
Lord, E. L. 1939. Grape culture in Florida. FL Ag Station Bulletin 63.
Mertens-Talcott, S.U., Lee, J.H., Percival, S.S., Talcott, S.T. 2006. Induction of cell death in Caco-2
human colon carcinoma cells by ellagic acid rich fractions from muscadine grapes (Vitis
rotundifolia). J Agric Food Chem. Jul 26;54(15):5336-43.
Michaels, B.E., 1986, pp 214,226. The River Flows North, A History of Putnam County. Taylor Publ.
Co., Dallas, TX
Mission San Luis de Apalachee http://www.taltrust.org/san luis.htm
Mortensen, John A. and Loren H. Stover, 1966. 'Norris' A New Purple Bunch Grape. Fla. Agric. Expt.
Sta. Circ. S-177. http://www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/grapes/CultivarBulletins/Norris%20circularS-
Mortensen, J.A. and R.J. Knight, Jr. 1967. Susceptability to Pierce's Disease of a Plant Introduction of
Vitis vinifera. Proc Fla State Hort. Soc. 80:348-350.
Mortensen, John A., 1968. 'Stover' An Early Bunch Grape For Central Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta.
Circ. S-195. http://www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/grapes/CultivarBulletins/Stover%/20circularS-
Mortensen, John A.; Balerdi, Carlos F. 1973. Muscadine grapes for Florida. yields and other
characteristics of 48 cultivars. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc., 86:338-341.
Mortensen, John A., 1976. 'Liberty' A Red Bunch Grape for Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-243.
Mortensen, John A.; Nesbitt, W. B.; Underwood, V. H., 1976. 'Dixie' A Bronze Muscadine Grape
Variety. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-244.
Mortensen, J.A., 1982. Grape Research. in IFAS, 1982- 50th Anniversary 1931/1981Agricultural
Research Center, Leesburg. WG-82-1.
Mortensen, John A., and Loren H. Stover, 1982. 'Tampa' A New Bunch Grape Rootstock. Fla. Agric.
Expt. Sta. Circ. S-295.
Mortensen, John A., 1983. 'Conquistador' A Purple Bunch Grape for Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta.
Circ. S-300. http://www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu/grapes/CultivarBulletins/Conquistador%20circularS-
Mortensen, John A.; Stover, Loren H., 1983. 'Daytona' A Table Grape for Florida Homeowners. Fla.
Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-302.
Mortensen, John A., 1983. 'Suwannee' An Early Bunch Grape. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-301.
Mortensen, John A., and Dennis J. Gray, 1986. 'Orlando Seedless' A Bunch Grape for Florida. Fla.
Agric. Expt. Sta. Circ. S-335.
Mortensen, John A., 1987. 'Blanc Du Bois', a Florida Bunch Grape for White Wine. Fla. Agric. Expt.
Sta. Circ. S-340.
Mortensen, John A.; Harris, James W. 1988. Muscadine and bunch grape fresh fruit taste panels during
21 years with 101 cultivars. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc., 101:229-232.
Mortensen, John A.; Harris, James W., 1990. Alachua Muscadine Grape. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta., IFAS-
UF, Gainesville. Circular S-373.
Mortensen, John A,, J.W. Harris, D.L. Hopkins, and P.C. Andersen, 1994a. 'Southern Home': An
Interspecific Hybrid Grape with Ornamental Value. HortScience 26(11)1371-72.
Mortensen, John A,, J.W. Harris, and D.L. Hopkins, 1994b. 'Florida Fry': A Bronze Muscadine Grape.
Mortensen, John A., J.W. Harris, and D.L. Hopkins, 1994c. 'Florilush': A Bunch Grape Rootstock for
Florida. HortSci. 29(11)1375-76.
Munson, T. V., 1909. Foundations of American Grape Culture. Denison, Texas: T. V. Munson &
Myers, O. A., 1882, pp 2, 6, 11, 12. Alachua County, Her Attractive Features and Public Improvements.
Gainesville, FL: Cannon and McCreary,. A State University System of Florida PALMM Project.
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Neck, Sanders S., 1888. The Present and Future Productions of Florida. Ocala, FL: Banner Steam
Printing House, 21-27, 41-45. 1999. A State University System of Florida PALMM Project.
Florida Heritage Collection. Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee. 8 Sept. 2008.
Nesbitt, W. B., V. H. Underwood, and J. A. Mortensen, 1976. 'Dixie' grape. HortScience. 11(5):520-
Ober, Fredrick A., 1906. Ferdinand De Soto and the Invasion of Florida. New York and London: Harper
& Brothers, 157-186, 256-272. 1999. A State University System of Florida PALMM Project.
Florida Heritage Collection. Florida A & M University Libraries, Tallahassee. 8 Sept. 2008.
http://purl.fcla. edu/fcla/fulltext?c=fhp&idno=AM00000177 00001&view=toc&subview=fullcita
Paisley, Clifton, 1968. From Cotton to Quail: An Agricultural Chronicle of Leon County, Florida
1865-1967. FSU Book, Reissue 1961. (Actually, reissued in 1981, not 1961) 1968 copyright?
Pezzuto JM. 2008. Grapes and human health: a perspective.J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Aug
27;56(16):6777-84. Epub Jul 29.
Pinney, Thomas, 1989. A History of Wine in America: From the Beginnings to Prohibition. Berkeley:
University of California Press, pp 394, 407, 411, 430, 345.
Proctor, Samuel, 1962. The Early Years of the Florida Experiment Station, 1888-1906. Agricultural
History 36(4) Agricultural 213-221. Jstor. http://www.istor.org/stable/3741136
Reeder, M. B., 1976. History of Welaka, 1853-1935. Welaka, Fla: s.n.
Renaud S, de Lorgeril M. 1992. Wine, alcohol, platelets, and the French paradox for coronary heart
disease. Lancet. Jun 20;339(8808):1523-6.
Rhoads, Arthur S., 1926. Diseases of grapes in Florida. Fla. Agric. Expt. Sta., UF, Gainesville, Bulletin
Rogers, David J. and John A. Mortensen, 1979. The native grape species of Florida. Proc. Fla. State
Rolfs, P. H., 1935. Founders and Foundations of Florida Agriculture; A serious and Frivolous Study of
Men and Measures. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 48:129-151.
Shear, C. L., 1923. Diseases in Florida. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 36: 102-103.
Stoner, Warren N.; Stover, Loren H., 1951. Field plot observations indicate that new hybrid grapes are
vigorous in Florida degeneration areas. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 64:266-268.
Stoner, W.N., 1952. A Comparison between Grape Degeneration in Florida and Pierce's Disease in
California. The Florida Entomologist, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jun., 1952), pp. 62-68.
Stork, William, Undated. Description of East-Florida with a Journal, Kept by John Bartram of
Philadelphia, Botanist to His Majesty for the Floridas. viii, xi, 19, 28, 29. A State University
System of Florida PALMM Project. Florida Heritage Collection. University of Florida Libraries,
Gainesville. 8 Sept. 2008. Keyword: Grapes.
Stover, Loren H., 1951. Breeding has produced better grape varieties for Florida. Proc. Fla. State Hort.
Stover, Loren H., 1954. The 'Lake Emerald' grape. Fla. Agr. Expt. Sta. Circular S-68.
Stover, Loren H., 1960a. 'Blue Lake', A New Bunch Grape for Florida Home Gardens. Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Cir. S-120.
Stover, Loren H., 1960b. Progress in the development of grape varieties for Florida. Proc. Fla. State
Hort. Soc. 73:320-323.
The Muscadine Grape. http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/muscadinegrape.html Accessed 11/2008
Thompson, Sharyn, 1987. Communication draft to Jeanne Burgess, March, 1987
Truskett, E. E., ca 1926. Bunch Grapes in Florida. Mount Dora, FL: The Mt. Dora Company, Inc. A
compilation of four presentations to the FSHS, May, 1925; FGGA, February 1926; FSHS, May
1926; and UF, August 1926.
Truskett, E. E.,1988. History of the Grape Industry in Lake County, pp123-127. In "History of Lake
County, Florida : Narrative and Biographical. Ed. Wm. T. Kennedy. Tavares, FL: Lake County
Historical Society, 1988.
University of California, Riverside, Accessed 2008.The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter.
USDA, 2007. America's First Grape: The Muscadine.
Vine, R.P., 1981. Commercial winemaking, processing and controls. Avi Publ. Co. Westport, CT.
Wood, J.A., 1970. Our French Heritage. Lewis State Bank, Tallahassee.
Figures derived from accessed publications are available chronologically under the Bibliography link on
the home page of the website.
Most color photos are derived from FGGA member's personal collections.
For all Florida State Archive (FSA) photos, go to :http://dlis.dos.state.fl.us/index researchers.cfm,
scroll down to and in the search box type "grapes", "Vineyards",
"DuBois", or appropriate term. Then sift through selections and choose
for information (often
very limited, sometimes incorrect) about photo.
Prehistory Not much information except generalities
Pre Colonization The History of Florida Agriculture: The Early Era. (Cresap, 1982. Chapter 1.
1600s and 1700s
Colonial Times Cresap, 1982. Chapter 2. Early Colonial Agriculture to 1763 and Chapter 3.
Early Colonial Agriculture to 1821.
As derived from available publications
Marquis de Lafayette awarded a land grant around Tallahassee by Monroe's Congress in 1824.
His designated French farmers migrated in 1831 and attempted grapes, among other crops.
Efforts failed, although some French settlers remained in the area. (Sharyn Thompson's draft to
Jeanne Burgess, March 5, 1987; Paisley, 1968; Alvers and Mahaffey, 1995).
A treatise on the location of Ft. Caroline, site of the Huguenot massacre, identified as St. John's
bluff and characterized by abundant wild grapes (Fairbanks, 1868 pg 32, 35). Grape arbors noted
in St. Augustine -1769 ibidd pg 96).
John A. Craig & John Bradford experimented with and sold Concord vines near Tallahassee
(Paisley, 1968 pp 49-51).
Col. Malachi Martin, Chattahoochee prison warden reported on successful sales of
Scuppernong wine on 160 acres in Mt. Pleasant, Gadsden County (Paisley, 1968 pp 49-51).
Martin is mentioned in the PeopleLine [due to his notoriety, not his wine].
Semi-Tropical 1:18-20, 1875. In an article "The Vineyard in Middle Florida", Jno. A. Craig,
Tallahassee spoke highly of his experience with some labrusca varieties. He provided cultivation
suggestions, called Florida "The Italy of America", and closed with a poem.
Semi-Tropical 1:23-28, 1875. A discourse was given on the Florida potential of some crops,
including grapes. Col. Martin was selling scuppernong wine at $2.25/gallon and making
$1,000/acre. E.H. Mason and A.I. Bidwell, Duval County and W.K. Cessna, Alachua County
confirmed his view. Bidwell indicated that his bunch grape, 'Hartford Prolific' was making
$400/acre and other non muscadine valued at $300/acre.
Semi-Tropical 1:203-206, 1875. A.L. Eichelberger lauds wine with a brief history, promotes his,
and describes in glowing terms his muscadine vineyard.[Later described as in Idlewild Grove,
Marion County, near Lake Panasoffskee.]
Florida Dispatch 1(5) May 8, 1876. Bidwell was mentioned as active in Florida Agricultural and
Fruit Grower's Association. He was later identified with grape growing, but more prominently as
a peach breeder.
[There were only scattered issues of the Florida Dispatch available on microfilm through 1881,
when more, but still incomplete volumes and issues are available on line. See:
93d2e0fdc967fa6fc;view=reslist;cc=fhp;subview=short; sort=occur start= 1;size=25;a= 17
FlaDispatch 2(1)3, 1877. Railroad map of Eastern U.S. Lines show line was only in North
Florida Fernandina and Jacksonville to Cedar Key.
FlaDispatch 2(14)1. 9/19/1877. Essay on "Fruit Growing" by Col. H.M. Sims, Columbia, S.C.
urging horticultural enterprises, including grapes, cited GA Hort. Soc. Recommendations for
grapes in certain regions of GA not FL.
FlaDispatch 2(15)4, 1877. Two year old scuppernong rootlets offered for $8/100 in Valdosta -
"recommended for any region of Florida".
FlaDispatch 2(22)2, 1877. Poor results with foreign grapes (vinifera, even crosses) was cited in
the East (Practical Farmer, Florida not mentioned). Only 'Concord' did well and no green
varieties were available.
FlaDispatch 2(23)1, 1877. Wine developments in Europe cited and California forecasted to be
nation's best wine region. Wine andFruit Reporter
FlaDispatch 2(25)1,2,4, 1877. Items Ohio grape prices; New York brewers cooling machine -
replaces ice; Vine pruning.
FlaDispatch 2(26)1, 1877. Alabama article on promoting and growing scuppernong cited.
T.V. Munson initiated his plantings in Denison, TX "Foundations ofAmerican Grape Culture"
FlaDispatch 3(11)2, 1878. Scuppernong was promoted in an article mentioning a vine grown on
Captain Petersen's place at Bayou Chico and Dansby's place, western suburb of Pensacola.
FlaDispatch 3(12)2, 1878. Cites Ocala Banner article A.L. Eishenberger, "Horticultural Prince
of Marion County" was growing fine citrus and scuppernong grapes around Lake Panasoffskee -
mentioned also as ideal for tropical fruits.
FlaDispatch 3(28)1, 1878. C.F. Quina, Pensacola growing purple grapes and hybrids.
FlaDispatch 2(35), 1878. California fruit industry, including grapes described
FlaDispatch 2(36)4, 1878. Two Florida Agricultural Societies listed; Vegetarian article.
FlaDispatch 2(36)1, 1878. Listed Florida Fruit Growers Association Constitution and 3rd Annual
Meeting Proceedings A.I. Bidwell chaired. Kenworthy reported on grapes Bidwell, Reid,
White, Barnett contributed. Meeting format & committees were similar to FSHS, founded 10
years later. Wine production quote suggest great U.S. potential U.S. = 14,000,000 gal and
France = 1,176,000,000 gal.
FlaDispatch 2(39)1, 1878. Lists many seedsmen none from the South.
FlaDispatch 2(49)1, 1878. List of 9 FL Ag Societies & Better RR map.
FlaDispatch 3(29)2, 1879. N. Woodworth, Welaka cautions growing bunch grapes on their own
roots and provides suggestions to prevent phylloxera. Suggests grafting on muscadine -??
FlaDispatch 3(52)2, 1879. Proceeding of the Florida Fruit Growers Semi-annual Meeting, June
4-5, no grape business, but Bidwell, Manville, and others were involved in organizing
procedures for State Fairs.
FlaDispatch 4(7)2, 1879. Dispatch Editor was sent samples of quality grapes from the Indian
River Agricultural and Horticultural Society and another offering from M. Martin, Mount
Pleasant. An associated promotional article cited Merritt's Island as being the "Italy of America"
for grapes and other fruits.
FlaDispatch 4(10)2, 1879. Note on scuppernong wine making from Georgia. Wm. P. Browne,
Chairman reported that the Indian River Agricultural and Pomological Society met at Rev. J.H.
White's Merritt's Island vineyard to view his grapes and pineapple and form a committee on
grapes. White brought vine stock from Tennessee 4 years ago (-1875) and now had 400 vines
of 32 varieties, mostly Roger's varieties and planted 1500 cuttings. Allen, nearby also had
equally good success.
FlaDispatch 4(17)3, 1879. Ag societies list & RR map. NW suggested grafting and cold
FlaDispatch 4(21)1, 1879. Controversy about grapes around Tallahassee by "Leon". Ag
FlaDispatch 4(23)2, 1879. J.C. Player defends grapes and wine response to "French", as
FlaDispatch 4(24)2, 1879. "Florida" defends state and scuppernong versa comments by "Leon".
FlaDispatch 4(26)2, 1879. More above controversy. James H. White clarifies details regarding
his "Island Home" plantings, noted in (FlaDispatch 4(10)2, 1879). Also, Fruit and vegetable
growers met June 2, 1879.
FlaDispatch 4(39)1, 1880. Pelargus, Eau Gallie reported favorably on 1 year cuttings from
California; he is grafting on 'Bullace'. There is a graphic description of Italian winemaking.
FlaDispatch 6(8)1, 1881. C.J. Kenworthy, Jacksonville responds aggressively to James H.
White's correspondence/accusations regarding Florida climate, etc.?
FlaDispatch 6(28)1, 1881. The Bartow Informant suggests scuppernong wine and vinegar as a
good business for Polk County, citing J.S. North's experience in Welaka.
FlaDispatch 1(1)12, 1882 (New Series). A table listed U.S. acreage and volume devoted to wine.
Florida had 83 acres and 11,180 gallons, in contrast to California's 33,000 acres and 14,000,000
gallons 2/3rds of U.S. production. [Assuming all reported acreage was wine grapes, that's -132
gallons/acre for Florida and -424 for California not very competitive.]
FlaDispatchl(1)13, 1882. Arnold Puetz, Jacksonville advertised potted vines of Black Hamburg
and White Sweetwater for 25 cents each.
FlaDispatch 1(5)80, 1882. Arnold Puetz, Jacksonville advertised potted vines of Black
Hamburg and White Sweetwater for 40 cents each. [After 4 months growth, plants were worth
15 cents more.]
FlaDispatch 1(7)106, 1882. Glowing report of Middle Florida's (Tallahassee & Leon County)
bountiful mentions many flourishing crops, including grapes.
FlaDispatch 1(7)108, 1882. Mention of the dynamic growth of the California grape industry -
table, raisins, but primarily wine.
FlaDispatch 1(10)154, 1882. A listing of Agricultural, Horticultural, and Pomological
Associations numbered 26, mostly in Florida, several in Georgia.
FlaDispatch 1(15)229, 1882. Bidwell was mentioned as a citrus expert also.
FlaDispatch 1(18)276, 1882. J.H Norton, Jacksonville insurance agent, growing citrus and also
labrusca grapes without Phylloxera problems and making wine.
FlaDispatch 1(22)338, 1882. A section entitled, "The Vineyard", had a chapter on Californian
wines mentioning their increasing quality, but still inferior to French offerings.
FlaDispatch 1(29)447, 1882. Eleven North Florida counties report good scuppernong yields.
FlaDispatch 1(29)452, 1882. "A very good claret" from North Carolina scuppernong cited as
indicative of that state's potential; wine recipe given.
FlaDispatch 1(31)483, 1882. Vine training advice.
FlaDispatch 1(38)593, 1882. Wine judging competition awards table.
FlaDispatch 1(38)595, 1882. D.S. Chase, South Lake Weir grape letter
FlaDispatch 1(38)591, 1882. D.S. Chase of South Lake Weir sent a grape sample to the Dispatch
publisher and provided a glowing report on his 3rd crop indicating success with both vinifera and
labrusca grafted onto native rootstock.
E. DuBois came to Tallahassee to grow grapes and make wine, bought part of Andalusian
Plantation from partners John A. Craig & John Bradford, then bought San Luis Mission fort
for Chateau San Luis west of Tallahassee. By 1889 he was producing 4,000 gal at San Luis
Vineyard, aka. Chateau San Luis or San Luis and Andalusia Vineyards. DuBois also operated
Florida Brandy Distilling Company. All these ventures petered out by 1904 with Leon County
prohibition (Paisley, 1968 pp 49-51).
T.K. Godbey settled in Waldo, bought property from Rogers containing grapes. Wasps ruined
grapes in 1889, so he turned to other crops. He later built holdings to 1,000 acres, specializing in
flowers and fruits, and said to have planted the first vineyard in Florida? [Definitely not literary
license!] (Buchholz, 1929 pp179 & 343)
George Husmann of Napa, CA published his New and Enlarged Edition, "American Grape
Growing and Wine Making: With Several Added Chapters on the Grape Industries of
California". Although Husmann didn't mention Florida, his opinion regarding Vitis rotundifolia
and the Mustang of Texas were less than favorable! "p.78 quote" Later, his son, George C.
Husmann was involved in Florida grape developments as a USDA viticulturist from about 1899
(FlaStateHortSoc 14:82, 1901) until at least 1929 (FlaStateHortSoc 42:83, 1929). (Pinney, 1989)
There was a gap in the on line availability of Florida Dispatch issues from Volume I, issue 44
until Volume VII, issue 11, 1887. Some (scattered issues) are available on microfilm -
reproduced as such.
FlaDispatch 2(4)69, 1883_ W.S. Hart's exhibited honey at State Fair. He also grew grapes.
FlaDispatch 2(4)70, 1883. Parrish, Orange City grafting vinifera successfully on wild rootstock,
but J.C. Thorpe, Orange City with vinifera on own roots were failing.
FlaDispatch 2(6)105, 1883, Mar 5- Depiction of State Fair included wine bottles.
FlaDispatch 2(6)110, 1883. Proceedings of Florida Fruit Growers' Association at State Fair,
Tampa. The FFGA supported the Regent's intent to establish a State Agricultural College.
Changed name to the Florida Fruit Growers and Agricultural Association.
FlaDispatch 2(8)145, 1883. Huge vine from Cochin, China described as suitable for fruit and
wine in U.S., San Francisco Bulletin.
FlaDispatch 2(9)170, 1883. Bee keepers in New Smyrna mentioned.
FlaDispatch 2(23)404, 1883. Question by E.T. Robinson, Yalaha, Lake Harris answered on
grafting scuppernong to vinifera or wild grape. [Answer only partially correct wild grape, yes;
FlaDispatch 1(41)645, 1883. An article sings the praises of California as grape paradise, rivaling
FlaDispatch 2(43)722, 1883. Jas. H. White mentions grape prices and reflects on those obtained
FlaDispatch 3(19)362, 1884. Railroad Gainesville to Live Oak opened.
FlaDispatch 4(1)9, 1885. Niagara vines from Fredonia, NY advertised.
FlaDispatch 4(13)271, 1885. Rev Jas. A White, Merritt's Island writes treatise on pine-apple
[sic.]. He was as optimistic about pineapple as he was with grapes.
FlaDispatch 4(14)290, 1885. White continues on pineapple in issues 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 50, 51, and Volume 5, issue 3.
FlaDispatch 4(20)407, 1885. Grape vine ads placed by Aaron Warr, Georgetown and others.
Ads also placed in other issues.
FlaDispatch 4(22)429, 1885. Steele, Switzerland, FL reports growing healthy northern grapes
FlaDispatch 4(28)527, 1885. In response to Steele, E.K.T. reports similar success with northern
grapes. Editor remarked that reports of good growth are invariably followed by vine die off after
FlaDispatch 4(28)530-1, 1885. B.F. Livingston, Waldo lamented on poor citrus stock being
FlaDispatch 4(29)549, 1885. A.I. Bidwell cited as an eminent horticulturist and nurseryman. He
owned the Arlington Nurseries in Jacksonville and then moved to a 160 acre farm near Orlando
in 1882 to concentrate on tropicals. The Orlando Reporter recommended his nursery stock. [Try
concentrating on tropicals in Orlando now!]
FlaDispatch 4(36)662, 1885. A.F. Styles, Orange Bluff Groves, Duval County cited for quality
citrus; he also grew muscadines.
FlaDispatch 4(40)733, 1885. Vine Ad San Mateo.
FlaDispatch 4(40)733, 1885. A description of champagne making in California suggests doing
the same with scuppernong.
FlaDispatch 4(45)804-5, 1885. California article mentions making "unfermented wine" -
pasteurized or concentrated juice with prohibition sentiments.
FlaDispatch 4(52)924, 1885. C.J. Kenworthy expounds on pear blight and its microbial nature.
He wished that the Agricultural College would devote efforts to fruit insect and fungal problems.
FlaStateArchives, 1885. (Figure 12) Good photo of harvest time at the San Luis Vineyards. Note
shotgun -was this protecting against birds or humans?
FlaDispatch5(20)345-6, 1886._Article describes vineyards and wineries in Georgia and South
Carolina, citing great potential. Vine and wine section contains articles on cultivating
scuppernong, the California 1885 vintage, scuppernong wine, bogus raspberry wine. A letter
from T.V. Munson mentioned a new species of grape discovered in Florida by Halsey around
1830 and rediscovered by J. H. Simpson, Manatee, who Munson called "an excellent amateur
botanist". Munson classified it as distinct from V. rotundifolia and designated it V. Simpsoni in
honor of J. H. Simpson.
FlaDispatch 5(24)416, 1886. A.I. Bidwell, Orlando nurseryman was vice president of the Florida
section of the American Association of Nurserymen which met in D.C.
FlaDispatch 5(25)427, 1886. Rev. J.P. DePass, mentioned as "a well known peach grower in
Archer" comments on peaches. He was the first Director of the Agriculture Experiment Station.
The Bidwell peach, developed by Bidwell at his Arlington Nursery, Jacksonville, was being
grown around Orlando (p. 443).
FlaDispatch Volume 5 had a number of communications by Steele, Mott, Hart, Armstrong,
White, and Bidwell pertaining to other crops and farming practices.
FlaDispatch 5(31)524-5, 1886. J.H. White had an extensive article on Livestock he was into
many farming pursuits. Fairfield Nurseries, San Mateo, O.R. Thatcher had an ad for grape
vines, pg. 530.
FlaDispatch 5(32)538, 1886. W.C. Steele, Switzerland suggested Floridians procure seeds of
grapes and raspberries from northern growers and plant them. He indicated raspberries as also
potentially lucrative and gave planting instructions for both, pg. 540. Jas.H. White, Island Home
wrote on poultry also, cited as "an experienced Florida poultry raiser", pg.544. H. Von
Littichau, Waldo corrected a news item regarding variety shipped north. They were a nameless
seedling from his home in Europe (Where?) and brought 30 cent/lb net from Marx Bros. in
Jacksonville. He felt that shipping rate of $3.75/100 quarts to Philadelphia was excessive.
Manatee Advocate cites Rev. Lee growing a wild vine that "beats scuppernong as far as the
'Concord' does the 'Delaware'"
FlaDispatch 5(33)554, 1886. James Mott, Orlando cites his experience with peaches in
Minnesota and Florida. W.C. Steele, after another year, reaffirms his success with labrusca, pg.
555. An interview with G.W. Livingston, a progressive fruit grower in Waldo He was doing
well with labrusca and cited other growers Renault, Waldo and Col. Roper, Gainesville as
also having good results, pg. 556. An item, "What to plant in Florida" elicited comment from
Herman Jaeger, Missouri to stick with scuppernong or Southern aestivalis, but do site specific
experimentation. He mentioned Munson's classifications as useful. [Munson's hybrids were
under development at this time.]
Anonymous articles mentioned 'Norton' aka. 'Cynthiana' as being the best American wine grape
- American Burgundy, and recommended for Florida. Directions for dealing with grape mildew
were given by Norman S. Coleman, U.S. Commerce Dept. Several notes About 1,000
varieties now grow in Europe from Vitis vinifera, originally from wild stock- the same should be
attempted with native Florida stock. Over the last 6 years wine production in France has fallen
dramatically. Madeira wines could be replaced by 'Scuppernong', pg.560. W.C. Steele
complained about high shipping rates and growers (of fruit in general) undercutting each other.
FlaDispatch 5(35)589-90, 1886. An article, under the byline Wine and Fruit Grower, provided a
detailed method for making Scuppernong wine. H.L. Wheatley, Altamonte described his post
system and W. C. Steele commented on stakes vs. trellises for vine training. 'Scuppernong' was
defended as a wine grape. DuBois provided an update on his expanding vineyards and winery
operation in Tallahassee. He stated that one could do as well on well drained land anywhere in
FlaDispatch 5(36)611, 1886. Vine ads 100 varieties from Fredonia, NY. pg 612. Shell Pond
Nurseries, Archer offering many plants, probably grapes also by Jas. P. DePass.
FlaDispatch 5(38)635-6, 1886. A description was given of grafting on wild rootstock. An article
from the Floridian describes DuBois' operation and compares it favorably to a vineyard in
France. Waldo mentioned as a promising grape center.
Florida Farmer and Fruit Grower 1(29)227, 1887. Contained ads for DuBois' San Luis and
Andalusia Nursery vines and wine.
Florida Farmer and Fruit Grower 1(29)229, 1887. Scuppernong jelly, jam and wine recipes.
FlaDispatch 7(11)241, 1887. A number of ads (pages 234, 235, 252) mentioned grapes A.H.
Manville & Co. of Lakeland and Drayton Island, Putman County featured "Fruit Trees, Vines,
and Plants adapted to the climate of Florida, including....."; "Hammond's Grape Dust Kills
Mildew" from Fishkill, NY.; Fairview Nursery, managed by O.R. Thatcher at San Mateo
offered citrus and many fruits, including grapes, as did Georgetown Nurseries, Georgetown,
Valrico Nurseries and Bay View Nurseries, Hillsborough County, Sunset Hill Nurseries, Indian
River, Deer Island Gardens and Nurseries, Oakland, Lakeland Nursery Co., Manville Nursery
Co., Crescent City, and Glen St. Mary Nurseries. Even Georgia nurseries mentioned grapes, in
one case, "specially adapted to Florida". A like number of ads promoting citrus implied the
availability of many other fruit plants, probably including grapes.
Baron H. Von Luttichau of Earleton was quoted in the "Vineyard" section as indicating that
vinifera could be grown, under careful cultivation and management practices. Following was a
communication by W.C. Steele, Switzerland, FL regarding 'Ives' and 'Perkins' grapes in
response to E. DuBois of Tallahassee's grape variety recommendations. Apparently, there was
strong disagreement between these gentlemen.
FlaDispatch 7(13)278, 1887. H.E. VanDeman, Chief USDA Division of Pomology lauds fruit
growers, insults Spaniards and Italians, promises support, but questions grape cultivar choices of
'Ives' and 'Perkins' over better labrusca and vinifera. Jas. N. Marshall, DeFuniak Springs (?),
encourages diverse plantings, including grapes.
FlaDispatch 7(13)279-80, 1887. J. Leahman, South Lake Weir continued "Grape Culture in
Florida" citing experience from 1881 and methods on acclimatization of selected hybrids; Jas.
H. White, Island Home disputes Steele's classification of grapes; Von Luttichau, Waldo
corrects misprint; A. M. Howell provides pruning advice in .Sn,,nhe 1 Cultivator.
FlaDispatch 7(16)338, 1887. J. Leahman concludes narrative and suggests formation of a "state
grape growing association". W.C. Steele, (who was in the nursery business in Indiana, New
Jersey, and Long Island and came to Florida in 1883) questions some of Leahman's details and
White's propagation and classification information; Following was a continuation of the
nomenclature uncertainties with comments by Von Luttichau, DuBois, and Steele. Steele then
cautioned about overbearing young vines. An anonymous paragraph commented favorably on
the grape and wine potential in Florida and a 10 acre planting near Welaka.
FlaDispatch 7(17)358-9, 1887. White writes to comment on Orlando meeting, citing his
experiences and exceptions to statements by Cessna, Mott, Du Bois, and Steele. He cites
DePass as being surprised that the Grape Committee hadn't recommended more varieties and he
(Steele) was surprised at the varieties they did recommend. [Apparently, this committee was
formed prior to the FSHS was Orlando meeting the pre formation?] White scolds fellow grape
growers for repeating the same mistakes planting vinifera or labrusca. He felt that select
hybrids (Rogers') were more promising combined with very careful cultivation practices in
proper soils. He concluded by warning about phylloxera, quoting the experience of Dr Davis,
Jacksonville regarding 1872 plantings and citing well designed, but failed experiments with
vinifera and labrusca and phylloxera problems encountered (Florida Agriculturist, September 29,
1877 Not availablee.
FlaDispatch 7(21)436-7, 1887. The response to White's scolding came rapidly. Von Luttichau
emphasized proper rootstock for labrusca to prevent phyllorexa problems and Steele cited
success with labrusca in his Switzerland FL locale, Dubois provided information showing that
vinifera had failed in his experiments. Steele responds to White regarding labrusca quality and
suggest regenerating vinifera on resistant rootstock; Anonymous response to DuBois planting
suggestions; An article on "Hybridizing the Grape" by J.C. Neele of Archer, reprinted from The
Farmer and Fruit Grower followed.
FlaDispatch 7(23)476-7, 1887. Professor E.M. DuBois (Where did title come from?) details his
experience in "Grapes in Florida", partially in response to James White's earlier talk. He
provided conflicting data regarding Rogers' hybrids and detailed his experience with other
species and hybrids. Some were promising, but not vinifera; Von Luttichau, Lake Santa Fe,
Waldo, was only slightly optimistic regarding certain vinifera varieties.
A report from the Floridian described grape and wine developments near Tallahassee. It
mentioned the intent of E. DuBois and A.J. Lemort to increase their Andalusia acreage on Lake
Hall to 100. A 5 acre vineyard on that lake belonging to Collum was unattended, although flush
At the San Luis vineyards, 2 miles west of Tallahassee, E. DuBois and Helly B. Dodd were
increasing nursery plantings to over 130,000, destined for state-wide sale. A 300 acre portion of
the Fort San Luis plantation was being divided into lots for sale to prospective grape growers.
J. Lemoine, from France had already purchased one lot and planted 5 acres. On an adjacent lot
C. Lankey, having sold an orange grove in South Florida to concentrate on grapes, set out 3,000
vines. DuBois also set up fig, persimmon, olive and other fruit plantings.
FlaDispatchD 7(29)597, 1887. In the "Vineyard" section, W.C. Steele reported on grape culture
in Orange County. He visited many vineyards, mentioning a curious vine from Cochin, China
planted by A.I. Bidwell; V. vinifera near Altamont; and Haynes, Young, and Bailey's labrusca
plantings planned for northern markets when vines mature.
Sherman Adams, Gabriella reported favorably on the prolific growth of labrusca and muscadine
vines in J.C. Wamble's Oviedo vineyard and the great Florida potential of fruits other than
W.H. Ashmead of Jacksonville identified two destructive insects sent him by W.C.Steele and
suggested washes to destroy them.
P.W. Reasoner, Marco Pass, spoke favorably of 'Goethe' grapes in Collier's vineyard, doing
well in rainy weather.
The Editor of Gardener's Monthly spoke favorably of 'Ives' a counterpoint to Steele's opinion.
Dubois was reportedly getting 20 cents/lb for Ives in New York.
J.H. Giradeau, Monticello promoted 'Niagara' by sending a box to The Dispatch office.
FlaDispatch 7(33)687, 1887. The transformational meeting of the Nurserymen's Association
and the Florida Fruit Growers Association into the Florida State Horticulture Society many
prominent viticulturists (as nurserymen) involved.
FlaDispatch 7(33)688-9, 1887. Wine ad, O.R. Thatcher, San Mateo and Vines by DuBois etc.
FlaDispatch 7(34)702, 1887. 'Cynthiana' and 'Norton' cited as different varieties by DuBois.
FlaDispatch 7(40)817, 1887. W.C. Steele answered grape propagation questions and commented
on Florida grape prices and preferences in New York.
G. H. Norton, Eustis, reported favorably on vinifera types, including raisin varieties. [Norton
was the viticulturist who provided Munson with Florida specimens (Munson, 1909 pp 30-31).]
FlaDispatch 7(40)825, 1887. D. J. Mitchell, Daytona produced a fine orange wine.
FlaDispatch 7(44)896, 1887. M.B. Wever, San Antonio, described an unusual training system
using trees as stakes and indicated his intent to grow vines. Walter Cooper of Sorrento
submitted a pruning question, answered by Dubois. Haynes, Young, and Bailey, proprietors of
the Niagara Villa Vineyard near Orlando, reported favorable prices (25-40 cents/lb) for their
early season labrusca in Orlando and project a good northern market. Von Luttichau gave a very
optimistic overview of the grape industry in Florida, citing his own, Dubois', and others success.
He opined that the greatest need now was the importation of European vintners to promote the
wine industry. W.H. Haskill, who moved from Tallahassee to DeLand, listed successful
varieties as: 'Delaware', 'Ives', 'Cynthiana', 'Black Hamburg', and 'Niagara' He also spoke
favorably of 'Southern Scuppernong', 'Thomas' and 'Tenderpulp', and added that DuBois was
planning an additional 200 acres. Sherman Adams reported that S. Farr of Lake Hiawassi was
FlaDispatch 7(49)1005, 1887. DuBois, in a strongly worded article defended the 'Ives' grape,
providing data regarding its shipping value and sales potential. This was to counter Steele's low
opinion of that variety. E.A. Schwartz and L.O. Howard, Department of Agriculture
Entomologists, provided information on grape insects and recommended whale soap suds spray
as a deterrent.
FlaDispatch 7(50)1023-7, 1887. The "Vineyard" section commenced a series by DuBois entitled,
"The Grape in Florida: A practical treatise on grape growing and wine making in this state"
Chapter I, Classification; Chapter II, Varieties Recommended for Florida; Chapter III, Starting a
Vineyard; and Chapter IV, Pruning and Training the Vines were presented in Issue 50, December
Steele commented on the China tree trellis system and Dr. Blanchard's unique cane rooting
system near Umatilla. He also countered DuBois' suggestion for setting two year vines,
preferring himself to set one year vines.
FlaDispatch7(51)1054, 1887. I.J. Brokaw was growing all types of fruit, including grapes in
Florida Farmer and Fruit Grower 1(29)227, 1887. DuBois ad for vines and wines at his San Luis
and Andalusia Nurseries. Page 229 had a scuppernong wine recipe not DuBois'.
FlaDispatch 8(3)47, 1888. DuBois treatise continued with Chapter V, Fungus Diseases,
indicating that the cited information had been quoted or condensed from Bulletin No. 11 from the
Department of Agriculture, Botanical Division.
FlaDispatch 8(7)127, 1888. DuBois continues and concludes on Fungal Diseases. Unattributed
mention that Wm. Oldfield of Suwannee County has a 589 foot long 'Niagara' vine.
FlaDispatch 8(14)268, 1888. Article, "The Profits of Grapes in South Florida", cites success and
optimism of three viticulturists from Rochester, NY Haines, Bailey, and Charles F. Young in
their Niagara Villa operation near Orlando.
FlaDispatch 8(16)306, 1888. W.C. Steele provided a word of caution regarding the glowing
profit picture depicted by the previous article on the Niagara vineyard. He reminded readers that
the laws of supply and demand affected shipped fruit, using strawberries as an example. If grape
growers expanded production in anticipation of a lucrative northern market, economics would be
sure to change. He also cautioned that bunch grapes required more care and attention than
muscadines. Dubois commented on the best and earliest grapes for market. He recommended
'Delaware', Ives', and 'Empire State' as preferred varieties, and their grafting on wild rootstock.
There was reference to an unusually large grafted 'Delaware' vine by Mrs. O. Kennedy of
Sorrento; deep planting techniques by D.R. Pilsbry, Sanford; and question on scuppernong
FlaDispatch 8(16) 312-3,316-317, 1888. Experiment Station funding was encouraged. A later
article describes the organizational meeting of the FSHS by the Florida Nurserymen's
Association. They met April 10, 1888 in Ocala for a regular session and reconvened that evening
to form the Florida Horticultural Society. A constitution was adapted and officers appointed.
Among those present with known or inferred involvement with grapes were: J.P. DePass,
Archer; Lyman Phelps, Sanford; J. B. Anderson, San Mateo; A.H. Manville, Jacksonville;
P.W. Reasoner, Manatee; Geo. A. Taber, Glenn St. Mary; I.J. Brokaw, Anthony; Em DuBois,
Tallahassee; KW. Cessna, Gainesville; and A. Eichelberger, Ocala. Standing Committees were
formed, consisting of: I. Citrus Fruits, II. Peaches and Plums, III Grapes, IV. Figs, V. The Kaki
(Japanese Persimmons), VI. Apples and Pears, VII. Tropical Fruits, VIII. Wild Fruits
(Indigenous or naturalized), IX. Flowers and Ornamental Shrubbery, X. "Ad Interim". President
D.W. Adams, Tangerine had not yet made committee appointments. Professor J.N. Whitner of
the State Agricultural College discussed the present status and plans for the Experiment Station;
branch stations had not yet been funded. Members then commented on research needs. A.B.
Mann, President and other officers of the Withalacoochee and Wekiva Land Company, invited
attendees to tour their facilities by rail.
FlaDispatch 8(17)326, 1888. James Mott commented on large bearing vines and verified the
150 lbs from the Kennedy vine, but indicated that dieback was evident later. Quality fruit from a
Niagara vine by Thomas Lucas, St. Thomas was noted; J.S. Browne commented on newer
varieties; Von Luttichau requested identification of a submitted insect which affected grapes
less than other fruit plants it was identified as a thrip.
FlaDispatch 8(19)366-7, 1888. Steele questioned Mott's estimate of the yield of Kennedy's
large vine and cautioned to guard against over bearing. S. Sanders Neck, Ocala suggested
methods for treating 'Scuppernongs'. Based on Steele's letter, the editor toned down the glowing
report on Niagara Villa vineyard. John C. Chambers, Orange Lake, suggested searching for and
using the earliest ripening wild grape in breeding experiments. A new grape, 'The Mills' was
mentioned for northern growers (American Agriculturist).
FlaDispatch 8(19)378-382, 1888. These advertisement pages listed about 30 nurseries, most of
which offered grape plants. Some of the contributors or persons mentioned in Dispatch articles
were listed as nursery principals. [Any relation between K.W. Loucks at Leesburg Station 1929-
1942 and the Villa Franca Nurseries ad, p.382?]
Florida State Horticultural Society First Meeting, Ocala, 1888
Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society Published in the FlaDispatch 8(16):312-
317, 1888. See Bibliography-Chronology file for copied sections and pages of all FSHS
Proceedings relating to this narrative.
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
W.K Cessna, Gainesville
E. DuBois, Tallahassee
Jas. P. DePass, Archer
A standing committee on grapes was formed, but members were not identified.
E. DuBois offered quality blackberry plant to interested members. Professor Whitner reported
on the State Experiment Station progress is being made, but no branch stations now planned,
The Florida Dispatch Farmer and Fruit Grower online issues had gaps after Vol. I (44) January
22, 1883 to March 14, 1887,VII(11)-7(23) (24,31,47,) missing and series ends with VIII(19)
April 23, 1888. This last issue had The Vineyard and other articles by E. DuBois. His wine &
brandy announcements & price lists, photos are used in figures.
FlaDispatch 1(19)242, 1889. DuBois's vine and wine ads. More issues were available in
microfilm. The Following is how the publications are numbered:
1888 ended with
Dec 31- Vol. 8 No. 42Pg.1014
1889 began with
Jan 7th- Vol. 9, No. 1 Pg. 1
Jan 14th- Vol. 9, No. 2
Jan 21st- Vol. 9, No. 3
Jan 28th- Vol. 9, No 4 (goes up to page 84)
Feb 7th- Vol. 1 No. 1 (page numbers start at 1 again)
FlaDispatchl(19)243-5, 1889. There was a detailed description of Dubois' San Luis plantation
and winery. Dubois promotes grapes and describes his travels to other Florida vineyards. He
warns against unscrupulous promoters of untried varieties. Von Littichau describes his plantings
and success in Earleton. Others mentioned experience in and outside Florida Rev. J.H. White,
on Merritt's Island, Mott on Haynes, Young, Bailey Niagara Villa, and J.E. Reagan on his
huge Bonifay vine. Northern viticulturists also contributed information.
FlaDispatch 1(19)250, 1889. Prominent viticulturists and their efforts mention optimistically.
FD ?:?, 625 August 8, 1889. Poor copy, unavailable in Archives for scanning, but good detailed
information. Written by S. Sanders Neck, Marion County DuBois credited with introducing
grape wine to Florida. Mentioned were: the historical background to 1562 and Laudonnjere's
observations of wild grapes; A.I. Bidwell's 1867 prediction of thousands of acres in grapes;
varieties to plant. Other persons cited were Col. Norton, Baron Von Littichau, Haynes,
Young, Bailey, Captain Samuel Agnu, Ocala (He sold 80 acres to 8 Italian families who
obtained grafts from Texas and proceeded to cultivate them.) A note on the grape craze by A.J.
Aldrich, Orlando cautioned this euphoria, citing grapes perishable nature and competition with
other fruits. Other comments, queries, and testimonies followed. George Wray, Orlando
mentioned that, as a piano tuner he traveled widely, and found grapes growing well everywhere.
Several excerpts from the Country Gentleman were an article on grapevine diseases and one
attributed to the Ocala Meeting of American Pomological Society (This was the first
[organizational] FSHS meeting). George W. Campbell of Ohio cited his many years of
experience and experimental work with varieties, crossings, and hybridizations. Campbell saw
no reason that "...with proper selection of varieties, and the aids in command, the "sunny South should
not be both the garden and the vineyard of the North American continent." In the following discussion
most agreed, but some pomologist, including the FSHS President (Adams) remained in doubt.
Second FSHS Proceedings, Orlando
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine (Other officers not identified)
E. DuBois cited, but not attending. His report on suitable varieties was read, followed by L.E.
Haynes report on his Niagara vineyard in Orlando. Later, some attendees toured this Niagara
Villa vineyard (FlaStateHortSoc 2:24-29, 1889).
Third FSHS Proceedings, Deland
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Theodore L. Mead, Oviedo
G.L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
Geo. A. Wright, Chuluota
James H. White, Island Home presented "The Past and Future of the Grape in Florida" with
some interesting historical information, citing earlier efforts from 1867. He made the point that
fresh grapes for the early northern market were the future for Florida and far more profitable than
wine. George H. Wright, Chuluota reported on "Grapes in South Florida" by detailing vineyard
preparation and management (FlaStateHortSoc 3:21-27, 1890). [South Florida was then the
Orlando area.] H. Von Luttichau, Earleton on "Grapes for Market" provided grape preference
and price information for northern markets. In a following article, Von Luttichau contradicts
B.F. Livingston's poor opinion of grape growing in Waldo, naming successful growers -
Cushing, Geo. Minnich, Godbey, Dr. Ambrose, Sparkman, Lever, Demmitt, and Capt. Dale
(FlaStateHortSoc 3:29-35, 1890). At the conclusion of these presentations Mrs. M.M. Lindley
read a paper (not recorded) on grape growing." [This was the first mention of a woman being
involved. Although obviously active, woman's role received little notice until fairly recently. As
we'll see, some very important contributions are noted from the 1970s on.] DuBois stated that
the average wine yield was about 250 gallons/acre. [This is very low by today's standards, where
at least 130 gallons/ton of grapes is expected.] DuBois also commented that, "he had made a
scuppernong wine and liked it, but he can sell 40 gallons of common wine to one of
scuppernong" (FlaStateHortSoc 3:10-11, 1890).
UF Experiment Station Bulletin 14, July 1, 1891 p11. DePass reported 60 varieties planted on
Live Oak farm. Freeze of 1890, poor land, and lack of attention cited as complications.
FL Dispatch 2/26/91, good rundown on local plantings- Unavailable.
FSHS Fourth FSHS Proceedings 1891, Interlachen
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Theodore L. Mead, Oviedo
G.L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
Geo. A. Wright, Chuluota
Grape communications from: E. DuBois San Luis Vineyard, Tallahassee, sent a report,
"Grapes: New and Old Varieties" in which he cautioned about introducing northern varieties
without extensive testing. L.E. Haynes Niagara Villa, Orlando provided an update report on
"Grapes in South Florida" and Von Luttichau added his vineyard experience in Earleton
(FlaStateHortSoc 3:7-12, 1891).
Gore, Mahlon. "A pen and camera sketch of Orlando, Florida" was published, including a
comprehensive section on grapes with photos of Niagara Villa (Gore, 1891, pp 39-45)
FlaDispatch 4(26)504, 1892. "Beginnings in Orlando" Haynes, Young, Bailey vineyard
management and operations described. J.B. Montagne cautioned on selling green unripe grapes.
FlaDispatch 4(28)545, 1892. P.P. Ink, Secretary of the Orange County Grape Growers
Association has 10 acres at home and 40 more vinifera acres planted for Babcock & Ink. H.M.
& R. Frith, Lane Park forwarded grape packing article in South Africa to editor.
FlaDispatch 4(29)565, 1892. "Beginnings in Orlando" continued. I.P. Wescott's 10 acre
vineyard described by DuBois. Other vineyards (and acreage) mentioned in the Orlando area
were: Geo. Macy (2), Geo. Archer (2), W.M. Peck (8), Babcock & Ink (40), Fletcher (2),
Griffin, (4), and Camden (3). A note by William Saunders, Superintendant of Gardens and
Grounds, USDA comments on canopy management.
Fifth FSHS Proceedings 1892, Ormond
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Theodore L. Mead, Oviedo
G.L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
Geo. A. Wright, Chuluota
Standing Committee on Grapes- H. Von Luttichau- Earleton, Geo H. Wright- Chuluota,
G.P. Healey- Seville
H. Von Luttichau reported positively on his growing system and later provided a rather
negative reading of his experiences selling grapes to New York buyers, although he felt that
early season fruit had the best opportunity. G.H. Wright mentioned the formation of a Grape
Growers Association in Orlando representing 350 of the total 450 county acres (members not
identified). Pertinent discussions involving Healy, Haynes (alluded to his attraction to Florida
grape potential, as did Wright, below), Bostrom, Bacon, Mott, Bieley, Phelps, and Peck
followed. Wright cited an exceptionally fine Orlando area vineyard owned by Wescott
(FlaStateHortSoc 5:29-35, 1892. In the following section G.H. Wright commented on the
prohibitively high freight rates and suggested a State Railroad Commission and nationalization
of the rail system (FlaStateHortSoc 5:121-127, 1892).
FlaDispatch5(1)16, 1893. Grape Ads, DuBois Ad
FlaDispatch 5(1)12, 1893. Holmes Erwin, Putnam County has a fine winery, vineyard, and
orange grove 5,000 gallons of a dozen wine types. (Palatka Times)
FlaDispatch 5(2)25, 1893. Scuppernong poem. An excellent sherry made from oranges reported.
William Chambers, Winter Haven is growing and selling muscadine varieties.
FlaDispatch 5(4)72, 1893. "The Vineyard" mentioned cuttings and fertilization. The Orange
County Grape Growers Association met with representatives from New York Grape
Commission (J.R. Travis) and Southern Express (C.L. Myers) to discuss handling and shipping
of early grapes.
FlaDispatch 5(5)85, 1893. Vineyard advice from DuBois.
FlaDispatch5(6)116, 1893. Ad for foreign vines from Asia, Africa, and Europe by J.B.
Montague, Winter Park.
FlaDispatch 5(6)110, 1893. After a cold snap, the Orlando Grape and Fruit Company and
Niagara Villa set out 150,000 and 80,000 tomato plants, respectively. These growers were
apparently quite diversified.
FlaDispatch 5(7)125, 1893. "Vineyard" promotes grapes for peninsular Florida.
FlaDispatch 5(8)144, 1893. The Lake City Agricultural Station was criticized Director DePass
(not an agriculturist and dual responsibilities with Yocum, Ag College President), poor location
of farm, and conflict with local farmers by selling crops. [DePass was a fruit grower in Archer,
so he surely had agriculture experience.]
FlaDispatch 5(9)164, 1893. Ad by N. Woodworth, Welaka selling 5 acre orange grove. [Was he
getting out of grapes also?]
FlaDispatch 5(9)157, 1893. "Vineyard" notes on grafting and pruning by DuBois and citing
Sixth FSHS Proceedings 1893, Pensacola
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
G.W. Mellish, DeFuniak Springs
Geo.L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
Geo. A. Wright, Chuluota
Standing Committee on Grapes- G.W. Peck, Winter Park, L.E. Haynes, Orlando,
E.C. Hammond, Jaffery
L.E. Haynes submitted a report (read by secretary) on his Orlando vineyard development and
management. In the subsequent discussion after G.P. Healy's comments, a move to end grape
discussion was opposed by Schubert and Chandler. McGowen of Defuniak Springs and
Mellish of Walton County provided additional information. After interjection of a contentious
World's Fair resolution, the discussion returned to grapes with Mellish and T.H. Hastings,
Hamlin, Stewart, and Taber contributing (FlaStateHortSoc 6:41-50, 1893). [Clearly, a number
of FSHS members at the cited locations had favorable experience and interest in grapes, while
others wished to move on little has changed.]
Seventh FSHS Proceedings 1894, Jacksonville
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Vice-Presidents- No grape growers
Standing Committee on Grapes- Emile DuBois, Tallahassee, Frank E. Boncher, Orlando,
H.P. Walker, Auburndale
Geo. H. Wright, Chair of Standing Committee on Grapes of the FL State Hort. Soc. Read report
prepared by A.W. Stewart, Galt on 1887 plantings of 'White Niagara' in Orange County with
vine selection and cultivation advice. A detailed report, "Marketing of Grapes" by G.A. Wright
was presented. He involved son-in-law George A. Robinsonin vineyard operations. The 1893
season started out good, but poor shipping conditions (lack of refrigeration [ice?] and high rates)
forced abandonment of about half the vineyards. Wright acknowledged H.P. Hand as 3r
member of Grape Committee and Stewart as missing. Subsequent discussions by Wright, H.S.
Williams, G.W. Mellish, G.P. Healy, Mott, Cooper, Lyman Phelps, W.H. Mann, and R.W.
Pierce established that better cultivation practices, quality varieties, more efficient and
economical, refrigerated shipping are necessary. There was a mix of very cautious optimism and
resignation some got out of grapes altogether. Wright opined that transportation was the key
and white vinifera grapes were suitable for wine only. Phelps, with experience in the grape
region of New York, tried in Orange County from 1882-86, then gave up. In contrast, Dodson of
Haines City had succeeded. The gist of this conversation was the feasibility of growing and
shipping grapes north from various regions of Florida. Pros and cons, successes and failures were
cited (FlaStateHortSoc 7:25-34, 1894). [This session is well worth reading today!]
The History of Welaka 1853-1935 mentioned that Madame De Breast of France had a vineyard
and made wine which was shipped to Jacksonville. Other "huge grape vineyards" of 40 to 50
acres existed and owners were selling grapes and wine. Unfortunately, the "Big Freeze" of 1895
wiped out the vineyards and orchards overnight (Reeder, 1976).
Eighth FSHS Proceedings 1895, Jacksonville
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Vice-President- No grape growers
Standing Committee on Grapes- H. Von Luttichau, Earleton; I.B. La Montague, Winter Park;
James Carnell, Ormond
A late report by G. W. Mellish on his Defuniak Springs vineyard was included in the
Proceedings (FlaStateHortSoc 8:74, 1895). The Catalog of Fruit Appendix, initiated in 1895
included a listing of recommended grape varieties Specified that vinifera were unacceptable
(FlaStateHortSoc 8:XIII-XIV, 1895).
Ninth FSHS Proceedings 1896, Jacksonville
President- Dudley W. Adams, Tangerine
Standing Committee on Grapes-, Ormond; O.R. Thacher, Avon Park;
W.A. Emmons, St. Andrews Bay
The discussion session involved viticulturists from various parts of the state, H. Von Luttichau
lead off with the surprising statement, "I had to give up grapes; they did not pay me well." He
cited transportation difficulties. Others present chipped in: P.H. Rolfs suggested grafting on
Muscadines; A.H. Stewart cited labrusca successes in West Florida; C.A. Bacon lauded the
Scuppernong as easily grown; Wright, obviously unimpressed by muscadines, retorted that his
labrusca were successful and wine most promising. However his "unfermented wine" (i.e. grape
juice) didn't sell well for sacramental purposes. [Even back then, prohibition sentiments were in
the wind.]; Lyman Phelps cited his failures due to wet seasons; and H.E. Anderson mentioned
dooryard success with both bunch and muscadine varieties (FlaStateHortSoc 9:67-69, 1896).
Tenth FSHS Proceedings 1897, Orlando
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
Standing Committee on Grapes- I.B. LaMontagne, Winter Park; J.H. Leslie, Panasoffkee;
L.Q. Kermode, Gulf Hammock
C.A. Bacon, Grape Committee Chairman admitting that he had no grape experience, concluded
that Florida grapes were suited well for wine and juice. A paper by O.R Thacher, Avon Park
reviewed recent failures and suggested door yard and hobby operations, but not commercial
enterprises. He did suggest a future for local wild grapes as potential rootstock. J.B.
LaMontagne, Winter Park cited his failures with vinifera imported from France and later
success when grafted on native species rootstock (FlaStateHortSoc 10:88-93, 1897).
Eleventh FSHS Proceedings 1898, Orlando
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
Standing Committee on Grapes- E.E. Pratt, Limona; L.H. Armstrong, St. Nicholas;
A.V. Clubbs, Pensacola
Jas. H. Leslie, of Panasoffkee summarized his 10 year bunch grape experiences as 5 good years
followed by disappointment with grapes. He lauded muscadines for their growth characteristics
and wine potential. Despite the growing prohibition attitude, he felt that eventually someone
would make wine "one of the most profitable industries in the state." Bacon suggested grape
juice as a better alternative and Dr. Kerr added the juice might be healthier than wine
(FlaStateHortSoc 11:103-106, 1898). [No, wine seems to trump juice (Pezzuto JM. 2008).
Nevertheless, his prohibition sentiments provide an early indication of grape's health benefits.]
Twelfth FSHS Proceedings 1899, Jacksonville
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
Standing Committee on Grapes was now combined with Figs, and Kaki (Japanese persimmons).
W.S. Hart, Hawks Park was the grape representative.
Dr. E.E. Pratt of Limona sang the praises of "The Scuppernong Family" Vitis rotundifolia. He
mentioned resistant bunch varieties from the Mediterranean and referred to Professor Webber of
the Agriculture Department, who vaguely cited disease resistant breeding work (FlaStateHortSoc
Thirteenth FSHS Proceedings 1900, Jacksonville
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
Von Luttichau was the grape representative.
W.S. Hart, (cited as Chairman of the Committee, although Von Luttichau was listed?)
emphasized the superior adaptability and juice quality of muscadines. Although, he felt that
muscadine's appearance detracted from its fresh fruit appeal compared to the more delicate
bunch grape. A later discussion dealt with "unfermented grape juice" (FSHS 13:102-108,1900)
Florida State Archives has photo of Emil DuBois' San Luis Vineyard near Tallahassee Circa
1900- Photo (FSA) (Figure 1).
The Florida Agriculturist (28(1)1, 1901) published excerpts from Secretary Wilson's
Department of Agriculture report. An upbeat overview of USDA accomplishments made brief
mention of ongoing efforts to test the adaptability of quality European grapes in the southern
states. A few very general references to cultivating, harvesting, handling, shipping, processing of
grapes followed in Volume 28 issues. Scuppernong called "the apple of Florida" (Fla
Agriculturist 28(28)456, 1901).
FlaAgriculturist 28(31)50, 1901. I. Wichtendahl, West Orange experimented for 5 years at his
Gotha place presented a new and promising red grape to Col. C.G. Frasch New York winter
resident in Orlando and grape expert, active in the CA wine industry. Wichtendahl had 500
vines of this variety. W.H. Haskell, DeLand commented on grapes around Orlando (28(28)584,
1901). The origin of 'Concord' and other grapes, including scuppernong was explained.
California "the wonderland of the vine" (28(41)660-1, 1901). [Gold Cure for alcoholism, pg
Fourteenth FSHS Proceedings 1901, St. Augustine
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
C.A. Bacon, Ormond was the grape representative.
H. Von Luttichau presented a talk, "A Grape Experiment Station". He described his initial
efforts starting two years prior (1899), sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, Division of
Pomology to grow Vitis vinifera on native rootstock at Earleton. W.D. Griffin briefly reviewed
the grape status. During discussions W.A. Cooper described unsatisfactory experiences shipping
grapes to the Chicago World's Fair, Porscher felt later season Niagara might work, while
Embry was successfully shipping to St. Petersburg (FlaStateHortSoc 14:82-85, 1901).
FlaAgriculturist 29(13)194, 1902. C.G. Frasch reviews grape problems, blames 'Niagara'
introduction for failure, lauds native grapes and scuppernong, and compares Florida grape and
wine potential to Italy's. [Earlier partnered with DuBois for a planned Orlando winery (Gore,
1891, pg 45).]
FlaAgriculturist 29(52)826, 1902. Tribute to A.I. Bidwell and his contribution to Orlando area
horticulture by Robt. A. Mills, former resident, now in California (quoted from Farmer and
Fruit Grower). Many general articles in Volume 29 on grapes health value, wine recipe, need
for seedlessness, and scuppernong promotion.
Fifteenth FSHS Proceedings 1902, Tampa
President- George Taber, Glen St. Mary
Standing Committee on Grapes, Figs, and Kaki-
H. Von Luttichau, Earleton represented grapes
This was the first meeting without a report on grapes, although they were listed in the Catalog of
Fruits and there was a grape representative (FlaStateHortSoc 15: IV-XIII and FlaStateHortSoc
Sixteenth FSHS Proceedings 1903, Miami
President- George L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
J. Earle Bacon, Ormond briefly commented on grapes. Baron H. Von Luttichau reported
favorably on "The Government Experiment Station" in Earleton. He cited a visit by George C.
Husmann, Department of Agriculture. Irvin Keck was optimistic regarding 'Lenoir' and lauded
muscadines. After some discussion on figs, the matter of the Bolton or Key grape was brought
up by Rev. E.V. Blackman and grapes suitable for Miami mentioned (FlaStateHortSoc 16:56-
60, 1903). A later section published general growing information, citing A.J. Bidwell, 1888:
DuBois, 1889 and 1894; H. Von Luttichau, 1892; and E.W. Amsden, 1894 (FlaStateHortSoc
Seventeenth FSHS Proceedings 1904, Jacksonville
President- George L. Taber, Glen St. Mary
H. Von Luttichau, Earleton represented grapes.
Boggs suggested the Key grape "of the European type" be added to the Fruit Catalog. Grapes
were not mentioned otherwise (FlaStateHortSoc 17:48-49, 1904).
Eighteenth FSHS Proceedings 1905, Jacksonville
President- C.T. McCarty, Eldred
J.E. Bacon, Ormond represented grapes.
H. Von Luttichau reported on "The Government Viticultural Experiment Station" and
cooperation with G. C. Husmann. Vines did well through the 5th year, decline was then noted.
He blamed it on improper pruning, variety, soil, or location and recommended replanting after 6
or 7 years. A discussion on the St. Augustine grape and bird damage followed. J.H. Wylie
reported favorably on muscadine and popular labrusca at Interlachen (FlaStateHortSoc 18:60-61,
Nineteenth FSHS Proceedings 1906, Jacksonville
President- C.T. McCarty, Eldred
Prof. P.H. Rolfs, Lake City
Presumably, W.C. Steele, Switzerland represented grapes.
B.M. Hampton discussed grapes in general, mentioning the elusive St. Augustine grape as being
as hardy as muscadines. The Key grape was said to be even more elusive, Rev. Bolton's vines
said to have died out in Coconut Grove (FlaStateHortSoc 19:60-61, 1906).
Ober, Fredrick A. Ferdinand De Soto and the Invasion of Florida. New York and London:
Harper & Brothers, 1906. 157-186, 256-272. Ober's text puts native grapes in context of the
Possibly DuBois' Vineyard in 1906 (FSA) (Figure 11)
Check cashed by E. DuBois, 1906. (Courtesy, Gary Cox. Figure 22)
FSHS Proceedings, Volume 20, 1907, held at St. Petersburg
President- Prof P.H. Rolfs, Gainesville
Standing Committees no longer listed grapes, but there was a report from the combined Grape,
Fig, and Persimmon Committee by P.J. Whister. Cultivation and vine decline were noted in all
bunch grapes, even in the Key grape. He encouraged breeding work with wild grape species.
Gibbs mentioned rugged wild none muscadine grape growing on the Indian River near
Melbourne. He hypothesized that it might a Munson type, introduced by an earlier settler, Hall.
W.C. Steele indicated that unfavorable shipping rates and seasonal competition in the north
contributed to grape's demise grapes had to compete there with many other fruits. In contrast,
strawberries ripen when other fruits are scarce. Niagara wine continued to be made at Moultrie,
GA and advertised in St. Augustine papers (FlaStateHortSoc 20:27-34, 1907). Last grape catalog
listing (FlaStateHortSoc 20:III-XIII, 1907).
Twenty-first FSHS Proceedings 1908, Gainesville
Standing Committee neither list grapes nor provide any reports.
Fla Fruit & ProduceNews 1(13)1, 1908 Mentioned grapes profitable in some locations and
muscadines more widespread.
T.V. Munson published his classic text, 'The Foundation of American Grape Culture" (Munson,
1909). Munson hybrids were starting to be available and spreading in the South.
Fla Fruit & Product News 1(20)9 Feb 12, 1909. "Lesson from the Grape Growers" by Mrs.
H.W. Thomas, DeFuniak mentions Chautaugua New York Grape Organization as a good model
for citrus. She emphasizes their attention to cooperative marketing and quality. [This is pertinent
advice for grape growers 100 years ago or today.]
Twenty-second FSHS Meeting- 1909, Daytona
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
Standing Committee neither list grapes nor provide any reports.
Fla Fruit & ProduceNews 1(28)5,1909. Large scale grape potential in Hillsborough investigated
by CA grower, Vincent Ciavola.
Twenty-third FSHS Proceedings 1910, Orlando
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
F.P Henderson opined that grapes could be grown in Florida, but past inappropriate varieties
and improper vine management were the problem. He felt deciduous fruits, including grape merit
more attention (FlaStateHortSoc 23:152-153, 1910).
Twenty-fourth FSHS Proceedings 1911, Jacksonville
No grape reports
FlaStateHortSoc 24:119-120, 136-7, 1911 Effie Stone Rolfs (Rolfs' wife?) reported recipes for
jellies, including scuppernong. A.J. Mitchell presented "Weather Bureau" dealing with freezes
- a pertinent topic for all growers (FlaStateHortSoc 24:151-57, 1911).
FlaGrower 4(52)15 Sep 28, 1911. Article, "Sour Grapes" describes poor results of the Rochester,
NY Growers and Shippers Exchange due to packing and shipping immature grapes. This
unacceptable practice killed the market, independent of later high quality shipments. [Same
inattention to quality in Florida -80 years later devastated a promising muscadine market.]
Twenty-fifth FSHS Proceedings 1912, Miami
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape reports
Twenty-sixth FSHS Proceedings 1913, held at DeLand
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape reports
FlaGrower 9(3)4 Oct 18, 1913. A note by F.J. Zimmerman lauds T.V. Munson as one of the
greatest viticulturists that ever lived and, recommends 'Carmen' as a profitable grape for Florida.
[Zimmerman had recently moved to Florida from Texas. By 1918 he was involved around
Tarpon Springs.] A few FG articles asked questions or commented about
Twenty-seventh FSHS Proceedings 1914, held at Palatka
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape reports
Twenty-eighth FSHS Proceedings 1915, Tampa
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape reports
FlaGrower 5(22)4 Mar 2, 1915. An article on "When and How to Plant Grapes" didn't mention
varieties at all a very serious omission.
Twenty-ninth FSHS Proceedings 1916, Arcadia
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape reports
FlaGrower 14(3)4, 1916. Photo shows luxuriant 'Concord' vines in DadeCity.
FlaGrower 14(17)20, 1916. A Californian viticulturist with 40 years experience is moving to
Tampa area and plans vinifera planting, since Floridians don't seem to know much about them.
[Over 90 years later, it still happens!]
FlaGrower 14(26)20,22, 1916. In response to inquiry about growing 'Carmen', Editor: "Note -
grape growing in Florida is an assured success". [Perhaps 40 years premature, at best.]
Thirtieth FSHS Proceedings 1917, Arcadia
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grapes report
FlaGrower 15(13)22 Mar 31, 1917. Question on grape growing in Suwannee County answered
by recommending scuppernong and labrusca varieties. Past failures blamed on improper varieties
and shipping problems.
FlaGrower 15(17)22, 1917. Similar question on varieties for Florida with 'Niagara'
FlaGrower 15(20)18, 1917. 'Carmen' questioned and deemed acceptable due to American
Other FG Volume 15 issues answered or commented on growing problems with above cited
varieties. In general, scuppernongs muscadiness) grow better, but demand for them is much less
than for bunch grapes.
Thirty-first FSHS Meeting- 1918, Fort Meyers
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
All Standing Committees discontinued. No grape reports
FlaGrower 17(1)17 and (3)29, 1918. F.J. Zimmerman presented article, "Practical Grape
Growing in the South How to Start a Vineyard" providing details on set up and varieties.
FlaGrower 17(25)17 Jan 5, 1918. G.M. De Vries, New Port Richie wrote "The Future of the
Carman Grape" in which he recommends that variety and similar hybrids and solicits other
FlaGrower 18(18)18,19 Nov 2, 1918. G.M. De Vries, Postmaster Port Richey and grape grower
clarifies the confusion between the varieties. 'Carmen' was a Munson hybrid suitable for Florida
and named by Munson after a cooperating colleague from New York, Professor Carmen. In
contrast, 'Carman' was a labrusca developed about the same time in a Rochester, NY nursery
and highly inappropriate for Florida. [However, in an earlier article the same year De Vries uses
the designation 'Carman' throughout (FlaGrower 17(25)17 Jan 5, 1918).]
FlaTimesUnion, Vol. 54 Pg 6, July 11, 1919. The Kissimmee Valley Gazette reported that Clark
Howell was getting an abundant crop of 'Carman' grapes from his 125 vines near Kissimmee.
FlaTimesUnion, Vol. 54 Pg 6, July 17, 1919. Sarasota Times cites M. Roth's fine grapes as an
indication of the Sarasota region's fruit potential. St. Petersburg Independent mentions that E.I.
and F.J. Zimmerman, Tarpon Spring are selling quality grapes locally and anticipate a good
market the next season.
FlaTimesUnion, Vol. 54 Pg 6, July 24, 1919. Florida Advocate reports L.G. Egger, Zolfo
selling 'Concord' profitably. The Suwannee Democrat lauds and photographs (not available) the
J.W. Blume vineyard near Live Oak and suggests that grapes may rival citrus in the future.
FlaTimesUnion, Vol. 54 Pg 6, July 29, 1919. F.J. Zimmerman delivered another load of grapes
from the Carmen Grape Company of Tarpon Springs, stating the grapes are easily raised in
Thirty-second FSHS Proceedings 1919, Orlando
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
No grape report
FlaGrower 19(18)42 and (23)14, 1919. Briefly cites grapes in Florida and muscadine potential.
FlaGrower 20(3)21 Jul 19, 1919. Chas. W. Lamb, Wachula presented "Grape Growing on
Original Stock", citing success in growing vinifera after 4 years experience.
FlaGrower 20(3)36 Jul 19, 1919. In contrast to the above, this article states that vinifera or
labrusca will fail, but the newer hybrids will succeed commercially.
FlaGrower 20(13)8 Sept 27, 1919. The Carmen Grape Company moved from Tarpon Springs to
Oldsmar to expand "fancy early bunch grape" production.
FlaGrower 20(13)11 Sep 27, 1919. This article cites the background on Prohibition and why
wine (originally excluded) ended up being prohibited.
FlaGrower 20(19)9 Nov 8, 1919. "Table Grapes in Florida" by E.L Zimmerman plugged the
profit potential. (Photos of brothers)
FlaTimesUnion, Vol. 55 Pg 11, Dec. 25, 1920. Albert Beekman, a successful, experienced
grape grower with large plantings in Hammondsport, NY moves to Miami and acquires 10 acres.
He anticipates initially growing 'thick skinned" grapes (muscadine?) and then better varieties on
wild rootstock for the northern market. Five families accompanied him. [Will they grow their
own grapes or assist him?]
Thirty-third FSHS Meeting- 1920, Ocala
President- H. Harold Hume, Glen St. Mary
Charles Dearing, USDA presented "Muscadine Grapes and Grape Products", comprehensive
history of developments in Florida and the South. He referred to Miss Partridge's work on juice