Budding Knife

This knife was used by Nathan Fay (1914-2001), the California grape grower credited with planting the first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Stag's Leap District of Napa Valley. Since Fay's first planting in 1961, the variety has become well established and the district is internationally known for its fine Cabernet Sauvignon vintages. When he donated this budding knife to the Smithsonian in 1997, Fay estimated he had used it to bud some 4,000 to 5,000 plants. He added that, in his prime, he was able to bud about 400 vines in a day, and, in his lifetime, he had probably budded some 12,000 plants.
The first step in budding new vines is to plant rootstock resistant to phylloxera, the devastating insect that attacks the roots of Vitis vinifera, the Eurasian species of grapes from which the world's best table wines are made. Although grapes native to North America are phylloxera-resistant, their fruit does not equal the kind of complex, classical wine produced by the V. vinifera species. Consequently, American viticulturalists have learned to plant "resistant" rootstock, typically hybrids of species native to the New World. It is on this rootstock that they graft the buds from V. vinifera wood.
Currently not on view
Object Name
knife, budding
Henkels Dansk
Physical Description
steel (blade material)
plastic (handle material)
overall: 17 cm x 1.6 cm x .8 cm; 6 11/16 in x 5/8 in x 5/16 in
place made
United States: California, Napa
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Food Technology
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Nathan and Mary Jane Fay

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