S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Babo, Baron Carl von (viticulture)

Born: 1822, Klosterneuberg, Austria.
Died: 1894, Place not known.

Baron Carl von Babo, a viticulturalist with an international reputation, was appointed viticulturalist to the government of the Cape Colony in 1884, with a view to re-organising the wine industry. Until 1887 he was also manager of the government wine farm at Groot Constantia. He soon compiled his Reports on viticulture in the Cape Colony (20 p), published in Cape Town in 1885. He also wrote the section on "Viticulture" in The South African Exhibition, Port Elizabeth, 1885 (pp. 185-200), edited by Charles Gowan and published in 1886. At this time the industry suffered a severe set-back owing to the infection of the vineyards by phylloxera, or vine-aphid. It attacked the roots of the plants and the problem was eventually solved by grafting cultured vines on American stocks which resisted the disease. In his contribution von Babo wrote: "I have no doubt that the wine industry of the Cape can be developed again to such an extent as to become an inexhaustible source of wealth to the whole country". A few years later he published a further short pamphlet, The grafting of American vines (Cape Town, 1892, 4 p). He became manager of the Cape Town Wine and Export Syndicate, formed to restore the overseas wine trade, but the venture was not a success. He died shortly after returning to Europe.

List of sources:
Mendelssohn, S. South African bibliography. London, 1910.

Rosenthal, E. Southern African dictionary of national biography. London: Frederick Warne, 1966.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Compiled by: C. Plug