Grapes in San Diego area

 Beginning now, July 28, 2019, I'm sharing some of my observations with growing grapes here in the San Diego area since the early 1990's, with emphasis on home garden growing.   I only grow grapes with seeds, -  to me with-seed grapes have a more nutritive feel to my body,... apparently a more nutritive effect on my body.  These are all grown with reference to fresh-eating.  I'm not involved with wine-concerns:

Growing notes:  To optimize fruit quality and consistency of bearing abundant crops each year, it's preferable to have no more than one bunch of grapes per vine-shoot.   In some cases, on some shoots, two bunches is ok.

Below is a listing of varieties I've grown and grow and their description from my experience, and which you can compare and contrast with information by others online, and potentially eventually your own experiences:

Price:  Not much fragrance, mostly a neutral plain flavor with maybe a tad of labrusca/Concord type flavor, rather sweet with some tang, so-so quality.   Round fruit.  Moderate vigor to vigorous.    Mainly a vinifera/labrusca hybrid, medium size fruit.   Dark blue/purple/burgundy skin (aka blurplegundy).  Pretty much disease free. Typically no split fruit.   Early ripening, mainly July, June earliest.   Very productive.  Grows well in basically all soils.


Golden Muscat:   Vigorous to moderate grower, pretty much disease free.   Fruit rather susceptible to splitting, but, case by case situation, splitting is not consistent in occurrence, whether with nearby water or only minimal ambient water / dry circumstances.    But, best resistance to splitting, with no fruit split, occurs where it doesn't have lingering moisture during summer time (including reachable substantial deeper ground moisture), but, with a well developed root-system from at least two years of growth, and, with any watering being stopped by June at the latest, the fruit should turn out well, without splitting, for a late August through September ripening time.   As with most grapes, does not need full sun for good grapes.  Fairly drought tolerant, not needy.   Light green/golden colored skin.  Large somewhat elliptical fruit, not round.  Refreshing tangy sweet flavor, juicy.   Very productive.   Grows well in basically all soils.   Grows well by coast.

Ontario:   Moderate vigor.  Best grafted at least in some situations, especially when grown in sandy-ish soils; grows better on its own roots in more clay-ish content soils than sandy-ish soils.   I've grafted it onto Muscat Hamburg on which the Ontario has grown and produced very well.    Susceptible to leaf burn more so than other varieities, but still worthwhile enough and otherwise pretty much disease free.  Light green fruit, potentially a little golden when very ripe.   Beautiful mild labrusca flavor with other pleasant subtle flavor notes.  Medium size round fruit.   Very productive if grafted onto strong rootstock.  Grows well by coast including highly productive in cool winds. 

Cayuga:   Good vigor.   Resistant to disease.  Very productive.   Light green to greenish yellowish when ripe.   Well balanced sweet tang.   A little more intense flavor than Ontario, but not as 'flavorful' as Ontario, if that makes any sense.   A bit more tannic and tangy than Ontario, though still very pleasant.   Ontario has a more 'clean and fresh' flavor, if that might make any sense to you.    Skin a bit thicker than Ontario.   Medium size round fruit.    Which do I prefer?:   Ontario if grafted onto strong growing rootstock.    Cayuga if grown on its own roots, since Cayuga grows more strongly and has healthier fuller leaves, not the leaf burn susceptability that Ontario has,... though the leaf burn on Ontario is tolerable since the grapes are high quality.  Grows well in all diggable soils.   Grows well by coast.

Muscat Hamburg:  Good vigor, resistant to disease, good productivity.   Black fruit a bit elliptical rather than round.  Has to get fully dark colored, and will eventually lose acidity and tannic quality to be pleasant to eat, with modest muscat flavor.   Grows well in basically all diggable soils.   

Muscat Ottonel:  Good vigor, resistance to disease, good productivity.   Light colored fruit, basically colorless.   Ripens easily, nice muscat-rose-scent flavor.  A lovely grape.   Medium small compact clusters of medium to medium small sized grapes.   Grows well in all diggable soils.   Should be grown out of cool winds otherwise will be low productivity.  Grows well by coast with protection from winds, for the matter of fruit production.

Verdelet:  Good vigor, resistance to disease, very productive   Light colored fruit, basically colorless.  Basic pleasant grape flavor, nice.  Grows well in all diggable soils.   Does well by coast.

Dattier St. Vallier:   Beautiful neutral grape flavor, with nice crunchy seeds, very satisyfing.   Egg-shaped fruit, distinctive shape.  Green-ish-yellow color.  Basically disease free vine and clusters, if pruned adequately each winter, - as is true with grape vines in general.   Late summer ripening. Seems to need clay-ish soils for good vigor on own roots, otherwise grows well grafted onto other grapes / grape-rootstocks, such as grafted onto Alpenglow and Esprit.  Seems not to grow so well on Isabella/California-Concord, whereas New York Muscat grows and performs superbly on Isabella.

Alpenglow, Esprit, Swenson White:  All seem susceptable to a leaf disease which discolors the leaves with yellow and necrotic tissue which resembles photos of Esca-disease.   The affectation occurs in the late-spring and will last through the leaves dropping off in summer or the leaves being stripped off in summer, which then can prompt new-growth to occur which may not be much affected by disease,... although the disease and lack of leaves will delay fruit ripening about two months, with ripening depending on the new disease free leafy growth which grows out after the leaves have been stripped off (better to strip off the leaves, for the sake of aesthetics).    Or, maybe best bet, don't grow these varieties.   But, could be a location/case-by-case circumstance with the disease.   Read Lon Rombough website for descriptions of these three.   Btw, Swenson White has not allowed takes of grafting attempts with three different varieties, whereas Alpenglow and Esprit have worked well as roostock, especially for Dattier St. Vallier.

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