1800s: Horticulture becomes the focus of people living in the northeast United States. Horticultural societies are established, greenhouses are built, and plants are propagated in great numbers. J. Fiske Allen becomes the leading expert on the process of forcing hot air into greenhouses to enhance the size and flavor of grapes.
1820s: The Prince family, father and son, imported Vinifera Vines from Europe and the Austrian Empire.
1820: George Gibbs, close friend of William Robert Prince, imported 28 varieties of vines from Europe. Five of the vines originated in the Kingdom of Hungary, a part of the Austrian Empire until 1918.
1825: New Englanders had given up thoughts of using vinifera grapes for winemaking. John Lowell summed it up in the New England Farmer, “Cider tastes good here … Wine tastes terrible.”
1829: Amateur horticulturalists interested in viticulture, George Gibbs of Long Island, receives a shipment of vines from the Imperial Botanic Collection at the Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. He sent Prince a note listing them. “You may depend on them as genuine because I received them from the Imperial Garden at Schoenbrunn.” No vine was labeled as Zinfandel, but later when Prince began listing Zinfandel in his catalog he noted that it had been introduced by the late George Gibb from Germany meaning Vienna.
1830s: Bostonians were calling one variety of table grapes “Zinfindel” in the 1830s. Note the spelling. Local nursery catalogs begin to make reference to the Zinfandel grape. Samuel Perkins built a greenhouse near Brookline Massachusetts and had marked success with growing table grapes, particularly Black Hamburg and Muscat of Alexandria varietals.
1830: George Gibbs went to Boston to attend the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS). George made a display of his foreign imports of vinifera from Europe. Samuel Perkins acquired some of George’s vines and soon began advertising the sale of cuttings.
William Robert Prince publishes of A Treatise on the Vine makes a vague reference to the Zinfindel grape. He lists foreign varieties recently introduced into the United States with two entries for the “Black Zinfardel of Hungary,” one of them being “parsley leaved.” Yearly catalogs also referred to the grape. The collection of the Prince Papers are in Beltsville, Maryland, at the National Agricultural Library.
1832: William B. Roberts of Perkins Nursery advertises cuttings of “Zinfindal Vines” for sale in Boston. Note the spelling.
1833: Perkins Nursery is selling rooted cuttings of “Zenfendel Vines” and displaying their grapes at the annual MHS meetings.
1835: Charles M. Hovey, Boston’s leading nurseryman from 1830 to 1860, is praising the flavor of “Zinfindal” and recommending it as a table grape. Hovey’s spelling soon became the standard spelling on the East Coast.
1835 to 1845: Horticultural publications are full of notices about Zinfindal. It has become a popular table grape, grown in commercial greenhouses and available to the public in early June.
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