The Alexander grape is a wine grape used for making red wines in the United States of America.
Alexander grape is a of quite some historical significance in the United States since this is one of the first grapes to be created through hybridization.
The principal synonyms for this grape includes Alexandria, Black Grape, Black Cape, Buck Grape, Cape Grape, Cape, Clifton’s Constantia, Columbian, Clifton’s Lombardia, Constantia, Madeira of York, Farkers Grape, Rothrock, Schuylkill, Rothrock Of Prince, Schuylkill Muscadel, Springmill Constantia, Schuylkill Muscadine, Tasker’s Grape, VevayWinne, Vevay, Winne and York Lisbon.
This variety happens to be the earliest named American hybrid variety which was used in the first production of commercial wines in the United States of America.
It is a spontaneous cross between the Vitis Labrusca and the Vitis Vinifera which were discovered in the neighbourhood in the woods which lay alongside the river of Schuylkill in the vicinity of Spring Getsbury which was located to the northwestern side of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
History of the Alexander Grape
This discovery was made by James Alexander in the year 1740 who happened to be a gardener to the then governor, Mr. Thomas Penn.
Though this is a widely accepted theory, some suggest that the discovery was not made by James Alexander, but it was his son, John Alexander, who made the discovery who as well, worked as a gardener to the Governor John Penn.
The Alexander grape was found in a vineyard planted in the year 1680 or earlier with vines from the European region by Mr. Andrew Doz for Mr.William Penn and hence the vinifera parent.
About after fifteen years from the date of plantation, probably in the year 1756, Col. Benjamin Tusker Junior took the grape vine and planted it in his sister’s estate located at the Prince George’s County in Maryland from where its spread was quick and rapid to the surrounding regions and far, thanks to the successful wine created by Tasker with the name Pinney 1989.
This wine was also popularized by the Bartramian family at their own estate garden in Philadelphia and widely distributed by William Bartram after the American Revolution.
According to Galet, this grape was planted in the state of Indiana in the earlier part of the 19th century, only to be later replaced by the more disease resistant grape variant Catawba in a slow and a gradual manner, only to be completely wiped out of the country.
In the 18th century and much of the 19th century, it was practically impossible to grow any wine grape which belonged to the European origin in the open air in the eastern part of the North American continent.
The Alexander grape combined the disease resistance capability along with the pest resistance quality from the North American grapes with the good qualities of the wine grapes from the European subcontinent.
This combination which created hybrids was perfectly acceptable grapes for large scale plantation and wine production.
The Alexander grape was the foundation for the first effective, popular and successful North American wine making industry over much of the eastern coast, in the state of Pennsylvania in the year 1790, and in surrounding states of Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana in the year 1806.
The Alexander grape might be extinct for now, and hence it is now currently unknown if any live vines or any material of this grape variety still exists somewhere in the world.
Characteristics of Alexander Grapes
Alexander grapes used to make up light bodied red wines which tended to give impressive and fresh flavours of strawberries and berries, although they might have had a problem of getting affected by the nasty foxy flavours which are quite common amongst the Labrusca specie of grapes.
These grapes would have been having dark coloured purple skins which do not add much colour to the wine as they had a tendency to detach away from the flesh quite easily.
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