05/08/05 — Cutting from 'mother vine' planted

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Cutting from 'mother vine' planted

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 8, 2005 2:03 AM

ROSE HILL -- A cutting from an ancient scuppernong grape "mother vine" that has grown for centuries along the North Carolina coast will now have a chance to spread its heritage into Duplin County.

The Manteo vine was already established when English settlers first reached North Carolina in the late 1500s. Mention of it is made in journals kept by members of Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition.

At a ceremony last week, a sprig from the vine was rooted in the soil at the Mother Vine Vineyard near Rose Hill.

David Fussell, the co-owner of Duplin Winery, said the planting was a historical moment for the state's wine industry, which has hopes of catching up to bigger rivals California and New York.

Randy Drew, a Wilmington filmmaker, show attendees at the planting ceremony a preview of his video, "The N.C. Grape Legends and Legacy," which depicts the history of the famed mother vine.

"The U.S. wine industry did not start in Napa Valley. It started here," said Drew.

North Carolina was the nation's leading producer of wine before the Civil War and has always been known for its scuppernong-based vintages, he said. Early explorers found grape vines growing wild all over the eastern part of the state.

Recent studies have shown the variety to be among the healthiest types of grapes. The scuppernongs contain high levels of antioxidants and even the hulls and seeds can be used for nutritional purposes.

Members of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Vine presided over the planting ceremony at the vinyard about four miles east of Rose Hill as members of the Fussell family set into place the first of 62 rooted cuttings from the two-foot-thick mother vine.

Fussell said the new plants are expected to be pollinated by nearby Carlos muscadine vines, another variety of the same grape species.