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California Grapes Are In Full Swing!

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Over 99% of the grapes grown commercially in the United States are from California.  Grapes are grown in the 450 mile long by 50 mile wide area between Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley regions and in the Coachella Valley in Riverside County.  Grape Season begins in May down in Coachella Valley which includes Palm Springs and the Salton Sea, with early varieties like the seedless red Flame and the seedless green Sugarone. As the weather gets hotter in July the San Joaquin valley starts producing varieties such as the seedless green Thompson and seedless black Summer Royal and seedless reds Krissy, Allison and Timco. Grape season may make it all the way to January with red seedless Crimson and the black seedless Autumn Royal as the last two varieties. There are over 80 varieties grown in California and more are constantly being developed.

Grapes are always picked ripe and do not ripen off the vine. Look for grapes with green, pliable stems and plump berries.  See a powdery-white coating on the grapes?  That’s bloom and it’s good!  Bloom is a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay. Grapes keep for up to two weeks when stored and handled properly.  Grapes should always be refrigerated to maximize shelf life.  Store grapes unwashed and rinse before eating.  Like most berries, grapes tend to absorb odors.  Try to avoid storing them next to things like green onions or leeks. (www.freshcaliforniagrapes.com) All grapes are also delicious as a frozen snack, tossed in a salad or served on a cheese platter.

Champagne Grapes partner well with a glass of bubbly!

Larger grapes do not always mean they are sweeter. Tiny champagne grapes from Three Sisters Organic are perfect as a sweet snack, dropped in a glass of champagne or use them to decorate a cake.  Johnni Soghomonian from Three Sisters Organic in Fresno says “You can eat them in little clusters, stems and all.  You get a little fiber and fabulous flavor!”  Fun fact: Champagne grapes when dried into raisins they become zante currants used in scones and for baking.

Joe and Johnni developed their label “Three Sisters” after their three daughters. Natalie started farming with her father in 2000, and has learned the business from the ground up. She directs all of the farming operations and manages the Sales of all crops. You will always see the father and daughter in the fields making sure that the farms are being cared for in the best way. They do not over crop their vineyards and pick late for a higher sugar content and fresher product. They know each grape personally! Their employees are dedicated and have been working for the Soghomonians for 10 to 40 years. They too are like family.

Don’t miss Earl’s two new varieties this week! Sables black seedless grapes taste like Concord Grape Jelly without the seeds and Sparkle red seedless grapes are gorgeous large berries with a super crunch and high sugar content.


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