The red grape variety originated in the USA. Around 80 synonyms testify to the worldwide spread of the vine. The most important ones are Albany, Albany Surprise, Alexander, Americano, Amerikanska Loza, Pineapple, Pineapplezoeloe, Arkansas grape, Bangalore Blue, Bellina, Black Cape, Blue Isabella, Blue Isabelle, Bromostaphylo, Captraube, Capwein, Catalan Negro, Champania, Christie's Improved Isabella, Constantia, Constantia grape, Dorchester, Edes, Eperzamatu, Fragola, Fragola Crna, Framboisier, Fraula, Fraulaghju, Frutilla, Gibb's Grape, Gros Framboisé, Gürcü Üzümü, Isabel, Isabella Blaue, Isabella Nera, Isabelle, Isabelle d'Amerique, Isabellinha, Izabella, Kepshuna, Kerkyraiso, Kokulu Üzüm, Koreos, Lidia, Loipe Makedonia, Moschostaphylo, New Hanover, Nostrano, Odessa, Ontessa, Paign's Isabella, Paine's Early Sanborton, Payne's Early, Paynes Isabella, Raisin du Cap, Raisin Fraise, Raisin Framboise, Sainte Helene, Saluda, Sampanija, Sauborton, Schuykill, Strawberry Grape, Tjortjidica, Tzampela, Tzortzidika Chakidike, Tzortzines, Utkopro, Uva Cimice, Uva Fragola, Uva Fraula, Vernet, Woodward and Zampela
There have been various speculations about the parentage, but none of them are based on DNA analysis. Presumably it is a seedling of a wild vine of the species Vitis labrusca. This was also assumed by the German ampelographer Rudolf Goethe (1843-1911), among others. This was doubted, however, by the US botanist Thomas V. Munson (1843-1913), who in 1909 assumed that it was a cross between Vitis labrusca and an unknown European Vitis vinifera. The vine was allegedly found in a garden near the (now defunct) town of Dorchester in South Carolina. According to another hypothesis by Bernard Laspeyre, it is said to have come from Spain to Charleston-South Carolina.
The amateur breeder George Gibbs from Brooklyn/New York (who a few years later introduced many grape varieties from Austria or the then Habsburg monarchy, including Zinfandel) passed it on to William Robert Prince from Long Island/New York, the owner of the "Linnean Botanic Garden" nursery, around 1816. He selected the vine and named it "Vitis isabellae" in honour of Gibbs' wife Mrs. Isabella Gibbs in 1822. It was imported into Europe by the Baumann brothers in Bollweiler(Alsace) as early as the beginning of the 1820s. Seedlings of the Isabella variety that openly flowered are Adirondac, Carter, Eumelan, Lydia, York-Madeira and Union Village. The vine has also been a cross-breeding partner in the new varieties Ada, Allen's Hybrid, Arka Hans, Centennial, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Hartford and Mount Lebanon.
This late-maturing, very high-yielding vine is excellent for tropical and subtropical conditions in hot and humid areas such as Brazil. It has a high resistance to both types of mildew and phylloxera. A characteristic feature is that the berries of one grape do not ripen at the same time. It produces light red wines with a pronounced foxtone. Therefore it is mainly used as table grape, for grape juice, but also for rosé and sparkling wines. During the phylloxera catastrophe in Europe in the middle of the 19th century, it gained great importance from the 1870s onwards and was cultivated on a large scale in many countries, including Austria.
In New Zealand, it was also used extensively in the fight against the pest from the end of the 19th century onwards and was still the most common grape variety there in 1960. Today, however, it is of no importance there. In the USA, it was the dominant variety in the first half of the 19th century, alongside the Catawba. It was then displaced by the Concord and occupies only a few hectares in New York. In Brazil it is popular under the name Isabel and with 18,279 hectares it is the most common grape variety. It is used here for the production of grape juice and jam, but also for sweet wine. There is also a larger stock under the name Bangalore Blue with 4,500 hectares in India; mostly for grape juice.
Stocks can be found in Moldova (11,401 ha), Russia (162 ha) and Ukraine (2,396 ha). Within the EU, from the 1950s onwards, especially in France, stocks were largely grubbed up for quality reasons or the ban on hybrids for quality wines in return for compensation. In Austria it was used for the local speciality Uhudler until the 1990s. Overseas stocks exist in Indonesia, where it is used for sparkling wines in Bali, and under Frutilla in Uruguay (256 ha). In 2010, a total of 32,494 hectares of vines were planted, with an upward trend. This puts it in 31st place in the worldwide grape variety ranking (statistics Kym Anderson).