The grape has been cultivated for a very long time. Since at least 6000 years ago the Egyptians were making wine with and even longer ago raisins were being enjoyed. Classified as a true berry a grape is the fruit that grows on a woody vine. The grapevine belongs to the family Vitaceae. Grapes grow in clusters of 6 to 300, and can be black, blue, golden, green, purple, red, pink, brown, peach or white. Cultivation of grapevines occurs in vineyards, and is called viticulture. Raisins are the dried fruit of the grapevine, and the name actually comes from the French word for "grape".
The vines create great summer shade over a pergola, balcony or deck then turning gorgeous autumn shades before loosing theirs leaves to let in the winter sun. The attractive grape leaves give a truly Mediterranean effect to your garden.
Comparing diets among western countries, researchers have discovered that although the French tend to eat higher levels of animal fat, surprisingly the incidence of heart disease remains low in France. This phenomenon has been named the French Paradox. Many scientists now believe the reason is the greater consumption of red wine in France. Something in the grape helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body and thus slows the build up of deposits in the arteries. Compounds such as resveratrol (a polyphenol antioxidant) have been discovered in grapes and these have been positively linked to fighting cancer, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease and other ailments. Doctors do not recommend excessive consumption of red wine, but three or four glasses a week is beneficial and encouraged. Red or not, grapes of all colours offer comparable benefits. Red wine offers health benefits not found in white wine, because many of the beneficial compounds are found in the skins of the grapes, and only red wine is fermented with the skins. Besides the high antioxidant qualities grapes are high in vitamins A, B1, B2 and potassium.
How to Eat
Fresh, fruit salad and they can be eaten raw, with cheese & crackers or used for making jam, grape juice, jelly, wine and grape seed oil.
Generic Fruiting Time
Full sun with good air circulation.
Some protection from strong winds and can tolerate some salt.
Depends on the flavour you want from your grapes, higher sugar & lower sugar are the result from cooler climates, whereas low acid & high sugar levels results from hotter temperatures. Frost hardy but late frosts can kill young buds.
The best soil for growing grapes is a deep and well-drained light textured soils but can be grown in a wide range. Ideal ph is 5.8 - 6.8. Regular watering required especially in the growing months.
Prepare planting hole with compost . Protect young plants form rabbits, wind and weeds. Keep plant moist. Some surface roots so protect with mulch which also helps with weed control and moisture conserving. They also form a deep tap root.
Grapes are not nutrient hungry. On young plants only need one application early spring of a balanced complete fertiliser. Older plants only needed feeding if you see a need if there is a deficiency. Keep the fertiliser away from the stem and water in well.
Grapes need pruning more than any other fruiting species. Irregular or poor crops will be produced if not pruned & trained. Annual pruning before the leaves emerge usually in the winter. Spur Pruning First winter after planting: select the strongest and longest stem for the main stem, remove all others. Train two shoots along the wire to form the side arms of the T (called a 'cordon'). Each year cut all the growth off the T-shaped vine except for a few two-bud stubs, one each 30 centimetres along the arms. Next winter cut out the cane produced by the top bud and cut the bottom cane down to a two-bud stub again. Cane Pruning Two canes have been left on each side trained all a single wire. Each year remove all growth except; 2-4 canes of twelve buds length from each side. A few two-bud stubs to provide next year's canes.
The main fungal problems are Powdery and Downy mildew - prune the plants so they have an open canopy with lots of air movement. Fungicide spray program for prevention may be needed from bud burst. Protection from birds will be needed as birds love grapes.