The Grape Craze

It seems that every time we enter the grocery store there’s a new variety of grapes. From Cotton Candy to Moon Drop, grapes seem to constantly be taking on new flavors, shapes and colors. But are these grapes safe? Are they genetically engineered? Is it witchcraft?

Carnival Grape took over 35 years of hybridization.

Slow Process, Delicious Flavor!

The answer isn’t as mysterious as one would think, though the process is painstakingly slow. A new variety coined the Carnival Grape, took over 35 years of hybridization and a few super cold winters packed with snow to produce the spun-sugar deliciousness now available to us all.

To make a grape such as the popular cotton candy grape (different from the Carnival Grape, equally as tasty), horticulturists hybridized the popular Concord grape with a common variety Vitis vinifera (common table grape), which resulted in a super sweet variety with 12% more sugar than a common table grape.

Since grapes have also been bred to be seedless, the flavor process is much like in vitro fertilization. Horticulturists remove grape embryos and transfer them to test tubes. The process takes anywhere from 6-15 years on average to bring a new variety to the market.

No Genetically Modified Organisms 

In short, these new grape varieties are not the result of GMO seeds. In fact, there are currently no GMO grapes on the market. If anything, horticulturists have been hard at work creating grapes that are hardier and can sustain harsher climates and produce sweeter yields.

Some varieties currently in the works are grapes that taste like strawberries, mangos and even pineapple. Rest assured that you are not experiencing sorcery either. Unknowingly, you may have even consumed red wine from generations of farmers who produce meaty wine grapes by burying bull horns to bring a meaty flavor to red wine. A process called biodynamic wine.

Just as we embrace the many varieties of apples and encourage grapes for winemaking, we should embrace the new selection of grapes available to us. Have fun and explore them all in moderation. What is your favorite? What new flavor grape would you like to taste? I vote for apple flavored grapes. The irony would be delicious.

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About the Author

Rhiannon Samoyedny is a Florida native.  She lives in the Garden Acres subdivision of Oakland Park with her family. Her passion for horticulture started in high school where she took horticulture classes and worked in a garden center after school.  Her education continued by self-study and attending many local gardening classes and workshops. Her garden philosophy is to keep it as simple, native and as organic as possible.

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* is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

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