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Grape, Vitis vinifera / Vitaceae
The grapevine is native to Asia and it is well-known from Pre-history. Its culture began in the Neolithic period and it spread to the rest of Europe, arriving at the American continent. At present, the continent with larger production is Europe.

The grapevine is thought to originate in the Caucasus and western Asia and it was probably already harvested in the Palaeolithic. It is certain that there existed wild grapevines during the Tertiary Age. During the Neolithic period (6000 B. C.) the culture of the grapevine was initiated in Asia Minor and the Near East. They gradually selected the species with better production, until they obtained the current grapevines, of great fruit.

The Egyptians knew the grapevine, but the Greeks and the Romans where the ones who developed its culture to a greater extent, spreading it all over the Roman Europe. The Spaniards introduced this crop in North America.

At present, Europe is the main producing continent, standing for half of the world-wide production of grape. It is followed by Asia. The areas with a smaller amount of grape cultivation are Africa and Oceania. Grape production, both table grape and wine grape, by continents is the following:

ContinentTons%
Africa3,176,6235
Asia13,658,49422
Europe31,453,47650
North America7,331,01812
South America5,297,9589
Oceania1,395,2002
Total62,312,769100

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

The great majority of main producers are European. The first is Italy, followed by France, the United States and Spain. The following table shows the countries with greater production of table and wine grape:

CountryTons
Italy9,773,641
France7,400,000
The United tates6,792,000
Spain5,646,400
Turkey3,650,000
China3,053,427
Argentina2,424,990
Iran2,350,000
Germany1,648,000
Chile1,575,000

Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 2000

The following table shows the main countries exporting grape (table and wine grape). Italy is the leader, followed by Chile, the United States and South Africa.

CountryTons
Italy577,344
Chile473,525
The United States280,155
South Africa183,684
Mexico107,797
Spain98,255
The Netherlands91,278
Greece87,160
Belgium-Luxembourg56,642
Turkey47,943

Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 2000

Among the import countries, the United States is the first one, followed by Germany, China, United Kingdom and France.

CountryTons
The United States383,672
Germany349,411
China163,333
United Kingdom153,546
France142,356
Canada136,687
The Netherlands132,789
Belgium-Luxembourg95,064
Poland88,040
Mexico51,896

Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 2000
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