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Clifford Ambers' visit at Bob Zehnder's Vineyard.

24 August 2005

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Tekst Clifford Ambers, Editor Søren Larsen

Well, I'm fresh back from my whirlwind trip to Summerville, SC, to visit Bob Zehnder and his vineyard.  With his permission, I took a bunch of photos of his vineyard, his grapes, him, and two videos of him talking about grapes.      

Bob was in great spirits and he toured me around his little vineard for an hour, but he gets lonely as suggested by his statement, "it gets so damn quiet here, sometimes it's depressing."  He would love to get mail from anyone willing to send a self portrait of themselves with a short bit on what you're up to in your breeding.  Ask me or Lon for his address if you would like to send him a note    

When Lon told me that his vineyard was in a challenging location I didn't really appreciate the extent to which that was true.  His little vineyard is carved out of a southern pine forest 85 feet tall with no air circulation and direct light only half the day.  It rains all the time in the Charleston, SC, area and is over 90 most of the summer.  It is the first vineyard I've seen with Spanish moss in the surrounding trees.  There is no reason any grape should be able to live in such a place, yet most of Bob's vines were reasonably healthy and bearing fruit WITH NO SPRAY!  I was astounded to say the least.  And even better, they tasted great!    

The trip was an inspiration and if you are in the area Bob said he considers all grape breeders his family.  He really is a sweet old "southern gentleman" to quote Lon.  What an accomplishment to breed grapes that will grow so well in such an inhospitable climate.  By the way, I showed him Peter Cousins comments about him and he nearly got tears in his eyes, and he is tickled pink by what the folks in Florida are up to.  Keep up the good work!

Note: all of these vines have rotundifolia in their pedigrees except the aestivalis vine.  None of the fruit has the typical muscadine aroma, however.  Most were sprighly and vinous – very pleasant.  The have proven themselves to be able to survive in an extremely harsh environment and could  be very useful in enhancing disease resistance in other hybrids.  I could not determine from Bob how these grapes fare when vinified by themselves.  I also do not know how cold hardy they are.   I hope to find out.  

C. Ambers 8/31/05

See the wineyard from above.


Entrance to Bob's Vineyard.

Middle of Bob's vineyard.

 Oranges, southern pine & Grapes.

 Bob Zehnder in his vineyard




 Bob with his wild aestivalis selection.


Bob Zehnder’s home



Z00-21-2, picture 2

 Z86-31-10,  Bob really was proud of this hybrid.

Z00-21-2, a cluster of muscadines ?

Z74-21-5  used in many of Bob's grapes, seed from Dunstan.

Z74-21-3, a Z74-21-5 sibling.



Z89-64-2, same picture close view.






FLA1521 x Diamond Muskat

Z74-21-6 male sibling of Z74-21-5

The "Ferrer" leaf

The "Ferrer" leaf



Bobs's aestivalis selection.


Reprint of Picture 2, an old Dunstan hybrid


Reprint of Picture 3, an other old Dunstan hybrid


Reprint of Picture 4, an other old Dunstan hybrid


 Video, Bob meeting Robert Dunstan

 Video, Bob about breeding