Growing Grapes in Your Backyard
Grapes have been cultivated since ancient times. The Mission padres introduced the Mission variety of grapes to California from Mexico, but this variety was not well adapted for producing raisins, quality wine, juice, jelly, or fresh fruit for eating. Many European grape varieties, brought to California in the 19th century, have provided the basis for today’s thriving grape industry. Today home gardeners still grow some very old European varieties such as Muscat of Alexandria, Ladyfinger-type varieties, and Thompson Seedless. Plant breeders have also developed some outstanding new varieties such as Flame Seedless and Perlette.
Generally, American types are more cold-hardy than European types. The two types also differ in their fruit characteristics and growth habits. European varieties generally require a longer growing season to mature their fruit, although most grape varieties need some summer heat to produce good-quality fruit.