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?
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.
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.
Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.
Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.
She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.