Historically, muscadine grape vines and the resulting fruit were discovered and recognized as a very important horticultural product, found growing in huge populations and proportions in the United States from Delaware southward along the Atlantic Seaboard. The first record of muscadine grape vine occurrence was posted in the ship logbook in the year 1524 by the navigator Giovanni de Varrazzano, who was hired as a captain from Florence, Italy by the king of France to explore and report on the inhabitants and the habitat of the New World. Captain Verrazzano described a big “white grape” (scuppernong) that was growing in great profusion at a valley in Cape Fear, N.C.
Not only were muscadine grape vines used by the American Indians for fresh fruit and juice, but they were also dried as raisins and preserved as winter snacks, as reported by Captain John Hawkins in 1565 from his sailing records from Florida.
In 1775, William Bartram in his book, Travels, reported muscadine grape vines that he had observed were virogously growing near Mobile, Al. “when ripe they are of various colours, and their juice sweet and rich.” He reported that American Indians actively preserved these grapes as raisins by drying them over gentle fires and later in the sun and air and “store them up for provision,” for winter meals.
U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, planted vineyards and harvested muscadines at his home at Monticello, and also, he established the fruit gardens at the White House in Washington, D.C. during the early 1800’s.
Arthur Barlowe in the year, 1584, wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh extolling upon landing in N.C. the fruitful land was “full of grapes, that I think in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.”
Responding to that letter the following year, 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh described the mother-vine of the scuppernong (white grape) muscadine with a base thickness of the grape vine stalk of two feet through, and the huge vine covered
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