I’ve never grown grapes and I thought I’d give it a try. I’m strictly interested in eating them fresh – not interested in winemaking. However, I’d like to grow a variety that’s better that what I can buy at Trader Joes. Should I try a wine variety such as cabernet or pinot or malbec or merlot or zinfandel? Or should I go with a seedless table grape? My preference is for a productive variety with a high BRIX count, and and black/purple/blue or red grape over white. Thanks in advance for your help!
Full disclosure: I haven’t grown grapes, but I’ve been looking into it extensively. So take this with a grain of salt.
My understanding is that most (if not all) wine grapes make for terrible fresh eating, and most (if not all) table grapes make wine that is underwhelming at best. The first couple paragraphs of this article sum the reasons up nicely:
I doubt in zone 10 you can do much with wine grapes unless you go with muscadines…which make a sugared sweet wine in Georgia/Florida, etc.
Zinfandel or Malbec or Carbinarre might work in a dry climate like Arizona.
Out of curiosity, why can you not do much with wine grapes in zone 10?
Wine grapes are actually delicious for fresh eating (how could something that’s 25 brix not be?), but most people don’t want to deal with the seeds. I have met people who eat the seeds and grapes whole…
I haven’t tried. You might ask someone in Portugal or Spain…wine from those places doesn’t rank in desirability with wines from more temperate regions of the globe.
Try a bottle of red wine from the liquor store from the hottest part of Spain or Portugal and see if you like it. If so, see if you can obtain the cultivar it was fermented from…I’ve never lived nor visited zone 10…unless north side of Lake Okachobee counts.
We eat our wine grapes… they are very sweet and smaller.
Yes, probably better to eat…except for the seediness.
We don’t know where PlantEater is…except zone 10…so advice is hard to give with so little to go on.
Me too, i don’t know if they will do well on warmer climate, maby not because the nead cold weather to grow properly… we juice them with other fruits.
Really need to know where PlantEater is located. Recommendations will be totally different if OP is Zone 10 in the southeast or southwest.
I’m in California!
You can grow and eat whatever grapes you want there. Table grapes are so much better homegrown than from store you will be happy with them. I grew himrod, concord and a red grape I’m forgetting right now when I lived in San Jose. All tasted great but concord has seeds. A neighbor grew an excellent muscat variety that was my favorite.
I’m also in Zone 10a California. I decided last year to plant a table grape and did quite a bit of research about which varieties would do well here. The problem with grapes where I am is that it doesn’t get hot enough for many of them to ripen or sweeten properly. Thompson Seedless and Red Flame, for example, would never work here. I wanted a purple grape, and I ended up planting Jupiter. I was also told Venus would do well here.
So did Jupiter and the other varieties you planted never ripen for you? That must have been disappointing!
I grow both wine grapes and table grapes. I eat wine grapes fresh off the vine sometimes but I found myself prefer the table grapes for fresh eating. Seedless is a big advantage of table grapes. I don’t have to spit out the seeds which are tart tasting. The table grapes’ skin is thinner and the texture seems more agreeable. Lack/ less of the tartness in skin actually made the table grapes tasted sweeter and pleasant to eat regardless the brix.
The only wine grape that I like to eat fresh is Concord ( not sure I should classify it as a wine grape though)
If your goal is to have better tasting grapes than those store bought ones, you can judt grow the same variety that the store sales. Home grow fruits in general are better than store bought.
I only had room for one grape vine, and I planted Jupiter. I only planted it about 6 months ago, so too soon to tell what the fruit will be like. But I don’t have any reason to think it won’t do well and produce the type of fruit I want. Others in cool climates have had good experiences with Jupiter.
The point of my post is that it is important to do your research into different varieties. Not all grape varieties will produce well in all parts of California.
I’ve grown a lot of cold hardy and vinifera table grape varieties. In general the Vinifera have the advantage in berry size and eating quality. All my favorites are vinifera. For my taste Jupiter wasn’t nearly as good as Summer Royal. Others I like are Flame, Princess, and Crimson seedless. There are a lot of new vinifera varieties now that I haven’t tried. If you want to experiment and have the climate that’s where I’d look. There are new hardy seedless as well. But in zones 9-10 with some summer heat vinifera is likely superior.
Summer Muscat was the best tasting grape I ever grew but it’s a small berry and hard to grow. I’d like to try it’s sister Diamond Muscat.
@fruitnut Are all of these Flame, Princess, Crimson, Summer Royal and Summer Muscat thin skinned grapes (aka not slip skin)? Did you try and like any labrusca grape variety?
I make wine from vinifera grapes, and grow a few vines for show (Gold metals at state fair). I have an eating grape called Candadice which can get very sweet. California is either cool and/or dry which means there is less problem with disease pressure. Any elevation change (high desert included) will make it cooler at night and better for growing grapes. Another issue is that with vinifera, or most grapes, you want cool nights when they are ripening to preserve the acid. Nights in the desert in California start to get cooler by September. But get a grape that can stand heat and will ripen later to get more acid.
There is in fact a big difference between “eating grapes” and wine grapes. Eating grapes typically do not have the high sugar of wine grapes. Concord often only gets to 16 brix (% sugar), while most wine grapes get to between 22 and 25 brix. Good fermentation typically occurs between 20 and 26 brix. This produces a high enough alcohol to preserve wine without boiling it, etc… This is why Niagra and Concord typically have to have sugar added if a wine is being made.
Another big difference is that eating grapes typically have higher acid. Acid makes eating grapes more refreshing. Wine grapes can simply be too sugary and not refreshing due to lower acid. Think of it this way: Coke has oodles of acid to offset the high sugars. This makes what normally be unpalatable sugary drink, somewhat palatable.
So if you are looking for eating grapes, get eating grapes. I will say that some white grapes and juice can be very tasty since they tend to have higher acid when harvested. I might suggest contacting your local Ag extension. California is a big state. What area do you intend to grow the grapes in?