We recently joined my sister and her family for the annual grape harvest on their farm in southern Manitoba. Together with other friends and family we help pick about half an acre of grapes – that’s about 700-800 grape plants (vines). For us Manitobans, that’s pretty impressive! Here’s a look at some of the varieties my brother-in-law and his brother grow. And yes, they turn those grapes into wine, but sorry, it’s not for sale!
Growing these tender varieties (clockwise from top left Ontario green, Valiant, Himrod, Kay Grape and Red Candice) in Manitoba takes a lot of know-how and a lot of tender loving care. Luckily, there are some hardier varieties that are relatively easily to grow: Valiant, Beta or Morden varieties. They’re dark bluish/purple, like below:
These beauties are usually ready for picking throughout September and early October.
I hope you get a chance to enjoy picking some prairie grapes. Just one caution – don’t get prairie grapes confused with Virginia Creeper berries. They look somewhat similar and ripen at the same time. But while grapes are edible and make delicious juice – Virginia Creeper berries are not!
Here’s a comparison of the two plants.
Enjoy your grapes and leave the Virginia Creeper berries for the birds!