Also called European grape, this deciduous woody vine is native to the riversides and damp wood in the Mediterranean region including central Europe, southwestern Asia, and north Africa, and was first domesticated about 3500-3000 BC in southwest Asia.  It is a member of the Vitaceae plant family that also includes Virginia creeper.  The vines can grow 40-60′ long  and have branched tendrils, flaky bark and heart-shaped palmate leaves with 3-7 lobes.  The leaves are 5-9″ across and have coarsely toothed margins.  Dense panicles of small greenish flowers appear in spring and give way to berries (known as grapes) that ripen in late summer to early fall. 

The first written record of  grapes and wine  appear in  the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh from the 3rd millennium BC and hieroglyphics indicate that wine was known to the priests, pharaoh and state official of ancient Egypt.  The many Bible references to grapes, wine, and vineyards suggest that the both wild and cultivated grapes were common in Palestine and the people made wine.  Although there are many references to wine and wine making in the Bible, only verses referring to grapes, raisins, and grape plants (vines) are listed here.

Genesis 40 (NIV) While imprisoned,  the butler of the king of Egypt tells Joseph his dream.

10. “and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes”

11. “Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.””

Genesis 49:11 (NIV) The wealth of Judah, who has the scepter, is described.

“He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.”

Leviticus 26:5 (NIV) God tells the Israelites what they can expect if they are obedient to Him.

“Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”

Numbers 6:3  (NIV) The requirements for taking the vow of a Nazirite are given to the people of Israel.

“they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.”

Numbers 13 (NIV) Moses sends spies into Canaan and they report back.

20. “How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)”

23 “When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 

24. That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.”

Deuteronomety 8.8 (NKJV) God tells the Israelites about the land that God is giving them.

“a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;”

Deuteronomy 23:24 (NIV) Property rights are enumerated.

” If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket.”

Deuteronomy 24:21 (NIV) The rights of gleaners are protected.

“When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what  remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.”

 Deuteronomy 28.39 (NIV) Moses enumerates the hardships of disobeying God.

“You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them.”

Deuteronomy 32.14 (NIV) Moses describes God’s faithfulness to Israel in the past.

[Remember when ]”with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape.”

Deuteronomy 32.32 (NIV) The metaphor of the vineyard, grapes and wine is used to show the results of the wickedness  of Israel’s enemies.

“Their [Israel’s enemies] vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness.”

Joshua 24:13 (NIV) Joshua reviews Israel’s history.

“So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Judges 8.2 (NIV) Gideon answers the men of Ephraim when they complain about not being called before the battle against the Midianites.

“But he [Gideon] answered them [men of Ephraim], “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?”

1 Samuel 8:14 (NIV) Samuel warns the people of Israel about the responsibilities of having a king.

“He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.”

1 Samuel 25:18 (NIV) After Abigail hears that her husband insulted David, she prepares a present for David.

“Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys.”

1 Samuel 30:12 (NIV) David offers food to the abandon slave of Amalekite.

“part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.”

1 Kings 4:25 (NIV) The peace and prosperity of Solomon’s kingdom is extolled.

“During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree.”

2 Kings 18:31 (NIV) The messenger of the Assyrian king tries to persuade the subjects of  king Hezekiah to surrender.

““Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern,”

1 Chronicles 27:27 (NIV) The overseers in King David’s kingdom are enumerated.

Shimei the Ramathite was in charge of the vineyards. Zabdi the Shiphmite was in charge of the produce of the vineyards for the wine vats.

2 Chronicles 1″10 (NIV) Preparations are made for the building of Solomon’s temple.

“I will give your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil.”

Nehemiah 5 (NIV) Nehemiah rebukes the nobles and rulers who had taken advantage of the people who worked rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem during financially difficult times.

3. “Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”

4. Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards.

5. “Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

11. “Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

Nehemiah 9:25 (NIV) After the walls of Jerusalem are completed, the children of Israel come together and recall their past sins and God’s help.

“They captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.”

Job 15:33 (NIV) Eliphaz groups Job with the wicked who deserve and receive judgment.

“He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms.”

Psalms 105:33 (NIV) David recounts the plagues God sent to Egypt.

“He struck down their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their country.”

Psalms 128:3 (NIV) Sung by travelers on their way to Jerusalem probably for one of the yearly feasts, God’s work in and through the family is celebrated.

“Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”

Song of Songs 2:13  (NKJV) The brides thinks about her recent encounter with her beloved.

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away!”

Song of Songs 2:15 (NKJV) The bride warns about the little foxes.

15. “Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.”

Song of Songs 7:8 (NIV) The bridegroom describes his desire for the bride.

“I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples,”

Isaiah 5:2,4 (NIV) The prophet tells the parable of the unproductive vineyard.

2.“He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well.  Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”

4. “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”

Isaiah 18.5 (NIV) God rejects an alliance with the Ethiopians because He can defeat the Assyrians by himself.

“For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches.”

Isaiah 24.13 (NIV) The scene of God’s judgement is described.

“So will it be on the earth and among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, or as when gleanings are left after the grape harvest.”

Isaiah 32.10 (NIV) The women are told the consequences if they do not prepare for the arrival of the king.

” In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come.”

Isaiah 36:16 (NIV) The Rabshakeh, field commander of the Assyrian army, speaks to the people of Jerusalem.

“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern,”

Jeremiah 5:17 (NIV) God tells the people that he will bring a mighty, ancient nation against Israel.

“They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy the fortified cities in which you trust.”

Jeremaih 6:9 (NIV)  The prophet warns the people about the siege of Jerusalem.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Let them glean the remnant of Israel as thoroughly as a vine; pass your hand over the branches again, like one gathering grapes.”

Jeremiah 8:13 (NIV) The people of Judah will suffer the consequences of rejecting the word of the Lord.

“’I will take away their harvest, declares the LORD. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.’”

Jeremiah 31 (NIV) God announces a new covenant.

29. “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30.  “Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.”

Jeremiah 49.9 (NIV) God’s mercy in regard to Edom is compared to the behavior of grape pickers and thieves.

“If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes? If thieves came during the night, would they not steal only as much as they wanted?”

Obadiah 1.5 (NIV) A parallel passage to Jeremiah 49.9 above

” “If thieves came to you, if robbers in the night— oh, what a disaster awaits you!— would they not steal only as much as they wanted? If grape pickers came to you, would they not leave a few grapes?”

Ezekiel 17 (NIV) The parable of two eagles and a vine:

6.”and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.”

7. “But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water.”

8. “It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’

9. ““Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots.”

10. “It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’”

Ezekiel 18:2 (NIV) God warns Israel about using a false proverb.

“What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “’The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?”

Ezekiel 19: 10 (NIV) Ezekiel laments the condition of Israel by comparing Israel to the grape vine.

10. “Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.”

Hosea 2:8 (NIV) God gives his judgment on Israel, personified a a harlot.

“She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold— which they used for Baal.”

Hosea 2:12 (NIV) The prophet describes how God will punish Israel for turning away from Him.

“I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them”

Hosea 9:10 (NIV) God remember when Israel was faithful.

““When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. But when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.”

Hosea 10:1 (NIV) The prophet analyzes Israel’s sins.

“Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.”

Hosea 14: 7 (NIV) When Israel returns to God in repentance, God promises to restore abundance and all the blessings it once enjoyed.

“People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.”

Joel 1 (NIV) Joel describes the devastation the locusts have caused.

7. “It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.”

10.“The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails.”

11. “Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed.

12. “The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away.

Joel 2 (NIV) Joel looks forward to the restoration of prosperity as God promised to a repentant Israel.

22. “Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.”

24.“The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”

Amos 4:9 (NIV) God describes his chastisement of Israel for turning away from Him.

“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, destroying them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the LORD.

Amos 9:13 (NIV) Amos looks forward to great prosperity and abundance as promised by God.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills,”

Micah 4:4 (NIV) The restoration of Zion by God is described.

“Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.”

Mich 6:15 (NIV) In the wake of the  injustice and deceit of Israel, God pronounces his judgment on the greedy and wicked.

“You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.”

Habakkuk 3:17 (NIV) Habakkuk trusts God even in a crisis.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,”

Haggai 2:19 (NIV) God promises to bless the people if they repent.

“Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. “’From this day on I will bless you.’””

Zachariah 3:10 (NIV)  Joshua is told of the coming of the Messiah.

“’In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

1 Macccabees 6:34 (GNT) The events leading to the last days of Antiochus Epiphanes are reported.

“They got the elephants ready for battle by showing them grape juice and mulberry juice.”

Matthew 7:16 (NIV) As part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns against false prophets.

“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

Matthew 26:29 (NIV) Jesus addresses his disciples at the last supper.

“I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Luke 10:34 (NIV) Jesus teaches with the story of the Good Samaritan.

“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.”

John 15 (NIV) Jesus addresses his disciples before his departure.

1. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”

4. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”

James 3:12 (NIV) James discusses the difficulties of controlling what we say.

“My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

Revelation 14 (NIV)  The events leading to the Third Woe are described.

18. “Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.”

19.  “The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.”

Revelation 18:13 (NIV) The items that will no longer be available when Babylon fall are enumerated.

“cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.”

Grape like full sun, fertile, medium moist, well-drained soil in USDA Hardiness zones 6-10.  It tolerates dry soil but is intolerant of humidity and does poorly in the South.  Many diseases and pests can damage grape plant including  anthracnose, black rot, botrytis bunch rot, crown gall, downy and powdery mildew, gray mold  and phomopsis;  flea beetle, grape berry moth, Japanese beetle, leaf hopper, leaf roller, mealy bugs, and phylloxera. Propagation is by cuttings and buddings.  The species is rarely grown but there are between 5,000 and 10,000 varieties of grapes, grown mostly for wine and food.  Grape plant leaves and stems are attractive, however, and the plants can be used ornamentally and as a screen on a fence or other garden structure.

The genus name, Vitis, is the classical Latin name for the wild grape.  The specific epithet, vinifera, comes from the Latin words vinum meaning wine, and ferre, meaning to bear.

By Karen