Written By: Walt Sandford, GNG Co-Founder
A grape is a berry, which means it is fleshy fruit produced from a single flower containing one ovary. The grape berry originated from Central Asia around 6000 BC and contemporarily are eaten fresh as table grapes or used for making wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil. 71% of grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit and 2% as dried fruit.
Grapes are loaded with Vitamins B5 and C, anthocyanins and polyphenols, including Resveratrol, highly concentrated in red grape skin. In general, purple grapes have higher polyphenol concentrations, which are correlated with higher antioxidant strength. Whereas, Resveratrol is also known to reduce high blood pressure in humans.
Grapes are typically grown in woody, deciduous vines. For the most part, they are drought tolerant and oftentimes produce sweeter fruit when water-deprived. Once the grape fruit is set, ultra-violet radiation from the sun at higher temperatures interacts with proteins in grape leaves to activate the ripening process, characterized by increased carbohydrate (fructose) production in the berry. Measuring wine grape sugar content (brix) is a critical indicator of when to harvest and process wine grapes. Interestingly, wine grapes are twice as sweet as table grapes.
The first winery was discovered in Armenia in 4000 BC. A yeast that lives symbiotically on the skin of grapes, which if left to stand, catalyses a natural fermentation process yielding wine, brandy and vinegar. Globally, there are estimated be to over 1200 wine grape varietals. Spain is the leading wine producer while China grows the most grapes in the world today.
The bible is rich with stories and parables of grapes, wine and vineyards. Most notably, Yahshua HaMashiak (Jesus the Christ) is fabled to have miraculously turned water into wine during a marriage supper. Contemporary Christians (and Catholics) routinely practice Holy Communion where wine is used to symbolize the blood of Jesus. For many, grape is a holy fruit.
Last year, San Diego was blessed with above average rainfall, which resulted in many grape vines producing like never before. Wine makers will be harvesting soon but table grape growers are already enjoying sweet grapes. Don’t be surprised if when you bite into a fresh-off-the-vine grape berry this summer, you don’t find yourself feeling grape-ful; and with your head tilted towards the heavens and sweet fruit flavor explodes in your mouth, praising the Grape Creator.