Grapes

A grape is a fruit, botanically a berry, of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant family Vitaceae and genus Vitis. family Vitaceae. The genus is made up of species predominantly from the Northern Hemisphere.



Grapevine is a perennial plant bush, characterized by helices – tendrils and trailing growth. It is a climbing plant and normally climbs on rocks or tree trunks. Tendrils grow on stems and are believed to be degenerated inflorescences.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

4 - 10 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

6 - 10 feet


Approximate pH

between 5.5 and 8.5


Growth Nutrition of Grapes


The physiological and metabolic processes involved with grapevine growth and production are influenced by key macro or micro-nutrients. Elements, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, iron and copper, play important roles in vine functioning, growth, yield and/or quality.


Types of Grapes


They come in an abundance of colors and flavors, and some types are used differently than others.


For example, some grape varieties known as table grapes are typically eaten fresh or made into dried fruit or juice, while others are favored for winemaking.


Moon Drops


The unique shape and delightfully sweet taste of Moon Drops make this interesting grape variety stand out from other table grapes.

Considered a type of seedless black grape, Moon Drops have a surprisingly crunchy texture and are deep blue — almost black — in color. They’re also long and tubular and have a distinctive dimple on one end.


These grapes make an excellent snack choice. Due to their large size, they can be stuffed with fillings like whipped cheese or roasted and tossed into a leafy salad to add natural sweetness.


Concord


Concord grapes have a deep bluish-purple hue and are commonly enjoyed fresh as table grapes. They’re also used to make flavorful juices, jellies, jams, and baked goods.

Bright, sweet and full of that signature dark grape flavor. They have easy-to-peel skins and large seeds.


Pinot Noir


Classically this grape is used to make wine, and though the Burgundy region in France popularized it, growers all over the world now cultivate this vine.

It is thin-skinned vitis vinifera in tight clumps of deep purple fruits. Pinot noir has flavors and aromas of ripe cherry, wild strawberry, earthiness and caramel.


Lemberger


Also known by the equally awesome name blaufränkisch, this grape is used for making dark, tannic wines with subtle spice notes.


Sweet Jubilee


This grape hails from the Grapery’s Flavor Promise series, and made the scene in 2012. It’s one of the seeded varietals they grow with large black ovals that make up a bunch. They are sweet and firm with a clean grape flavor.


Valiant


These large blue grapes are used for juicing, jams and as a table grape, though they can be on the sweeter (almost sugary) side. They’re larger than the average table grape.


Crimson Seedless


They are firm and sweet with a pleasing tartness and have a long shelf life. The color is usually a pale brick red, sometimes with greenish streaks.


Kyoho


Similar to Concord grapes, Kyoho have a deep blackish-purple color. They were created by crossing Centennial grapes with a variety known as Ishiharawase and have been the most popularly cultivated variety in Japan since 1994.


Cotton Candy


Cotton Candy grapes were first produced in California in 2011 and have been a hit with consumers ever since. These candy-like grapes were made by hybridizing grape species to create a unique taste

Cotton Candy grapes are green and taste oddly similar to the cloud-like confectionary cotton candy.


Riesling


Riesling grows best in areas with cooler climates, like Austria, Germany and the Finger Lakes in New York. Riesling is the most versatile grape grown, giving one the potential to make wines from bone-dry to dessert wine–sweet.

As a grape, this specimen runs on the sweet side, with floral undertones and high acidity. This fruit also picks up the terroir of the land, meaning if the soil has more minerals in it, the grapes reflect that. All of these traits make it a great grape for winemaking.


Gewürztraminer


These white grapes have a pink-red skin, nothing like the almost clear wine. While the size proves standard for the fruit, the flavor remains less grapey, and instead comes across as soft and clean with a hint of stone fruit.


Moon Balls


It is the white-seeded grapes. They are only grown in South Africa and thus far production is limited.


These round hybrid grapes come out large and green, almost like an edible bouncy ball. They posses a thick skin and supple, sweet flesh that proves a bit more sugary than most table grapes.


Sultana


Also known as Thompson Seedless, these small white grapes originally hailed from the Ottoman Empire. Sultanas are small, light green oval-shaped grapes that pack a wallop of sugar. Once dried, the sugar concentrates and produces that earthy-sweet raisin

Thompson Seedless is considered one of the most important varieties because it has been used to breed many other types of grapes. For example, it’s the main grape used to create seedless varieties.


Fry Muscadine


Coming out about the size of a cherry tomato, these fruits turn a nice gold color when ripe that just adds to their sunny sweetness.


Planting Grapes

  • Grapevines should be planted in early spring after the date of the last hard freeze has past. Vines are usually purchased as dormant, bare-root plants.

  • Most grape varieties are self-fertile. To be sure, ask when you are buying vines if you will need more than one plant for pollination.

  • Select a site with full sun. If you don’t have a spot with full sun, make sure it at least gets morning sun. A small amount of afternoon shade won’t hurt. Your soil needs to be deep, well-drained, and loose. You also need good air circulation.

  • Grape vines will need to be trained to some sort of support to grow upward. This will also cut the risk of disease. The support needs to be in place at planting.

  • One option is a sturdy trellis or arbor. The arbor may have two, four or six posts, depending on whether it’s attached to the house or another structure. The top can be secured with 2-inch by 4-inch wooden slats that hold the arbor together and topped with 1-inch by 2-inch wood pieces to create the lattice work for the vines to grow on. You may also need corner braces to secure the whole structure. Grow the grapes, one per post, selecting the strongest cane. Allow it to grow to the top of the post the first year, securing it to the post as it grows.

  • If you are low on free space, try growing grapes on a stake. Pound in a sturdy stake next to the grape vine and securely attach it. Keep the vine growing vertically. Let the vine grow to the top of the stake the first year then top it. Allow 4 to 5 side canes to grow. Remove all the rest.

  • Before planting grapevines, soak their roots in water for two or three hours.

  • Space vines 6 to 10 feet apart (16 feet for muscadines).

  • For each vine, dig a planting hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Fill with 4 inches of topsoil. Trim off broken roots and set the vine into the hole slightly deeper than it grew in the nursery. Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp down. Fill with the remaining soil, but don’t tamp this down.

  • Water at time of planting.


Growing Grapes

  • Do not fertilize in the first year unless you have problem soil. Fertilize lightly in the second year of growth.

  • Use mulch to keep an even amount of moisture around the vines.

  • A mesh net is useful in keeping birds away from budding fruit.

Pruning Grapes

Pruning is very important. Grapes produce fruit on shoots growing off of one-year-old canes. If you have too many old canes (from no pruning), then you’ll get fewer grapes. If you prune back your vines completely each year, then you get lots of new growth, but again, few grapes.

Pruning is done in late winter when the plant is dormant, usually around March. But for the first year or so, the goal is to create a strong root system and trunk. Plant in spring and prune back the grape vine to three buds. Then wait until the first winter.

  • If you are growing grapes on an arbor or trellis: Grow the grapes, one per post, selecting the strongest cane. Allow it to grow to the top of the post the first year, securing it to the post as it grows. The first winter top the cane and allow it to grow side branches along the top of the arbor. If you let the vines just continue to grow, they will produce dense shade, but little fruit. Prune the grapes each winter by removing those canes that fruited the previous year, cutting back one-year-old canes to five to six buds, and leaving some renewal canes pruned back to two to three buds. The goal is to have canes on the trellis spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. Remove any weak, thin canes. You want to leave enough fruiting canes on the trellis to fill it back in each summer, but not so many that is becomes a tangled mess.

  • If you are growing grapes on a stake, cut back the side canes in the first winter to three buds on each. These will send out shoots that will produce grapes the next year. Remove all weak and spindly growth, especially along the lower parts of the trunk. The second winter, prune back the healthiest canes to six to ten buds, select two canes as renewal spurs and prune those back to three buds on each and remove all other canes. Repeat this pruning each winter. Your trunk should be able to support four to seven fruiting canes each year as it gets older.


Harvesting

  • If grapes aren’t ripening, pinch back some of the foliage to let in more sunlight.

  • Grapes will not continue ripening once picked from the vine. Test a few to see if they are to your liking before harvesting, usually in late summer or early fall.

  • Grapes are ripe and ready to harvest when they are rich in color, juicy, full-flavored, easily crushed but not shriveled, and plump. They should be tightly attached to the stems. Sample different grapes from different clusters, and the taste should be between sweet and tart. Check our ripeness guide for more tips on color.

  • Grapes can be stored for up to six weeks in the cellar, but grapes can absorb the odors of other fruits and vegetables, so keep them separate. Use cardboard boxes or crates lined with clean, dry straw. Separate bunches with straw or sawdust. Check often for spoilage.


Pests and Diseases


Pests


Keeping the plants properly pruned and cleaning up grape leaves in the fall will help to decrease the number of overwintering pests. In the spring, cultivate around the base of each plant to turn up any overwintered pupae. Planting coriander or borage in the yard can help attract bees to the grapevines. Planting chives and Nasturtiums will discourage Aphids.

  • Japanese Beetles can reduce productivity. Geraniums planted within or around the backyard vineyard will help to deter Japanese Beetles.

  • Rose Chafer are large beetles that eat the grapes.

  • Grape Berry Moths lay eggs directly on the grapes. The larvae will drill into the berries, leaving small holes and webbing in between the berries.

Deer and birds can also devastate the grapevines. Use of tubular wire cages can help to deter deer as well as human, dog or coyote scent. Netting can be used to protect the plants from birds as well as aluminum pie plates and artificial hawks, owls or snakes. If using netting to protect plants from birds, be sure to remove before winter to avoid ice forming on the netting and damaging the plants.


Diseases

  • Mildew and fungus diseases are common among grape growers in humid areas. Symptoms of disease include discoloration of leaves, film on leaves, lesions on leaves or decay of berries. Seedless varieties are usually the most disease resistant.

  • Powdery Mildew – white, powder-like substance on the leaves

  • Downy Mildew – light green to yellow spots on leaves

  • Black Rot – brown circular lesions on leaves

Diseases can vary depending on what region you live in. Be sure to research diseases that are common in the particular growing area.


Benefits of Grapes


Heart Health

Grapes, especially red varieties, contain a significant amount of polyphenols, such as resveratrol, which lower the risk of atherosclerosis and strokes. Those polyphenols are associated with lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Skin Health

Resveratrol is the main reason we see grapes appearing in cosmetic medicine. This powerful antioxidant protects cells collagen, helping the skin remain young and healthy.


Cancer

In the eternal fight against cancer, polyphenols such as resveratrol and quercetin once again play the most important role. According to studies, resveratrol may be able to prevent tumor growth in various organs, such as liver, skin, stomach, breast, skin, colon, and lymph. Red wine contains resveratrol which if consumed wisely, could have beneficial effects. However, consuming high quantities of wine could increase the risk of various heart and liver diseases.


Improves Digestion

Grapes are a source of fiber, which is known to boost the good functioning of the digestive system and may prevent constipation.


Vitamin C

Grapes are a great source of vitamin C, which promotes skin health and boosts our immune system.


Eye Health

Grapes also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which neutralize free radicals and prevent eye-damaging conditions, like cataracts.


Uses

  • The whole fruit, skin, leaves, and seed of grape are used as medicine.

  • Grape seeds are by-products of the manufacturing of wine.

  • It is also use grape as a mild laxative for constipation.

  • Dried grapes, raisins, or sultanas (white raisins) are used for cough.

  • Grape leaf is used as a food, particularly in Greek cooking.

  • Grape leaf is used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, uterine bleeding, and canker sores.

  • The Muscadine grape’s thick skin make it best suited for use in jams, wine, or other processed grape products.

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