This red variety is the result of a cross between an American Vitis aestivalis and an unknown Vitis vinifera variety, or European variety if I may. A comprehensive and well documented research about its history can be found in Fairheaven Vineyards website.
Just like what happens with virtually all native plants, Black Spanish inherited a significant capacity to adapt and tolerate the local environment (have you seen how Live Oaks and Cedar Elms succeed here?), including usual threats like the strong winds and some pests and diseases like Phyloxera and Pierce’s disease, for example.
Its adaptability even goes to the extent of having a self protection against hungry grape eating animals by means of producing its own repellent. You know, grapes are meant to be eaten by birds and other animals so their seeds get dispersed. By doing so the specie survives through years and centuries, but it seems that in the case of native American varieties this doesn’t happen before the berries themselves are actually ripe and ready to harvest, because until that point the feathery or hairy creatures won’t stay close to them.
At Fall Creek Vineyards we basically grow this viticulturist’s best friend variety among some other non-native varieties as well, and we have witnessed the above over the years. Interestingly enough, we might want to watch wild animal’s behavior to set a new harvest index, instead of brix (or sugar content) we may run and pick the grapes right after they start eating them! Only then the Black Spanish grapes may have reached the so called “physiological ripeness”.
Now, making wine out of it is another story, so stay tuned!
Fall Creek Vineyards
Director of Winemaking