Red Grapes – Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
California grapes are at peak season with full sugar and optimum flavor. There are over 70 varieties of red, black and green varieties, now coming out of the San Joaquin Valley, think Stockton and Merced in the north down to Bakersfield in the south.
Out of all the varieties, red grapes are always the hardest to color up, with the Flame grape being the most fickle. Red grapes need cooler nights to help develop that rich red color. The recent hot days and warm nights are preventing the fruit from coloring up. Johnni Soghomonian from Three Sisters Organic in Fresno says “Our Flame grapes are having a hard time coloring up this year. We spent a great amount of time, all hand labor, pulling off the leaves covering the fruit, in order to help color up the grapes. The sugar and great flavor is there, but we are working with Mother Nature and some grapes are just stubborn.”
Conventionally ethrel is used to color up the fruit, but that cannot be used in organic production. Many newer varieties have been bred for color and have superior darker color berries than the Flames. Sunview Vineyards, located in Delano, just north of Bakersfield, used to grow Flames, but replaced them with the “Rosa” red grape, a proprietary variety that yields a darker color berry. Sunview saw an opportunity to turn the low colored Flame grapes into raisins, growing their raisin program to include red, green and black organic raisins. All three varieties are available at Earl’s.
We can look forward to the Crimson red grape from Three Sisters in about 10 days. This variety inherently colors up better than the Flame, with all the sweet and crunchy characteristics we want in a good eating grape.