Wednesday, 05 March 2014 14:52

Praise for Blueberry (and Venus) Grapes

Written by 

Blueberry Grape
Blueberry Grape

I love it when I receive a call from someone passionate and knowledgeable who has tried a new product in a here-to-fore untested climate zone and gives back such glowing and detailed feedback.  I want to thank Robin for this anecdotal evidence showing Blueberry and Venus Grapes performing well in a very mild winter area.  Here is Robin's email to me - used with permission.

Ron Ludekens


From Email 1-23-2014

Hi Ron,

It was a pleasure to speak to you today about grapes, cultivars and environmental variability.  We live in the City of La Mesa, far to its western edge (just SE of SDSU), bordering the City of San Diego Rolando neighborhood - Sunset Zone 23.  We have had the Venus, Blueberry and Crimson seedless grapes for several years now - with the first two heavy favorites.  The Crimson has not been noteworthy, but it also has had the least TLC.  The Venus was our first experiment growing grapes, since we primarily focus on fruit trees (about 100 on our property), and we were immediately hooked.   In the third year, the single Venus vine produced ~100 lbs of grapes, and now easily doubles that productivity. We love the taste and firmness, and have not noticed a seedy quality. I personally have come to prefer the "foxy" character of Venus's exceptional and rich flavor.  It harvests early here, and the third year produced awesome and ripe fruit mid-June. It grows supported by a chain link fence, which is now formidably laden with the heavy vines - growing up and down along the northern edge of our sloping property.

About four years ago we planted the Blueberry grape along the southern slope of yard - same chain link. Our only caution now, is how to contain it. We have a ½ acre of land, and I believe it would envelope the entire property - if allowed to roam freely.  One cordon extends at least 25 feet from the main cane in both directions, and that is after some serious pruning each year!  We really adore this grape. Its taste and texture so closely resemble a blueberry, one almost can forget it really is a grape, except unlike our sparse blueberry bushes, this highly productive fruit actually makes it into our house. It is sweet but rich, with a surprising burst of blueberry flavor and bite, and never mushy.  It also appears to be disease free, with medium to large fruit by year three.  In addition to its excellent taste, the big leaves are extremely ornamental, turning bright red in winter, and lingering on the vine through December in our region. It is growing adjacent to our vegetable garden, and we seldom water it, except what it gets from the proximity to a Netafim drip system for the vegetables.  Our soil is mostly fill, and we do provide excellent drainage, good sunlight and air circulation. Plus years of composting and mulching have also likely induced great fertility, but we don't add amendments or spray anything additional.  It does have to fend off a passion vine which wants to compete for the fence.

In any case, I really appreciated all your time to discuss the origin of the "Blueberry grape", since it is one of our more productive, hardy and delicious varieties of fruit. This year we harvested probably about 200+lbs of Blueberry grapes and fed many birds with no complaints, as there is ample to share.  Not only is the blueberry vigorous, it sets fruit over a very long period, perhaps two months. Our local CRFG chapter was really curious how we had such a vigorous plant.  Based on your input, I may experiment with that Concord seedless grape to replace our Crimson seedless location, and hold off until I can taste a locally grown Thomcord.  Wine grapes next...

Please contact me at any time for networking down here in this region, as I'm a member of CRFG as well as the SD Horticultural Society, Master Gardeners, PTCA, SDFA, Garden Writers Association, and also give talks in this region. In fact 3/22/14 the Master Gardener seminar is hosting several tree topics: Here's my class:

Give my regards to Brain Kempf, and I'm thrilled to hear his container mantra is getting into the nursery trade.  One of my pet peeves is the lousy state of so much ornamental nursery tree stock - all root-bound by the time it reaches the consumer.

Respectfully,  Robin


Robin Rivet

Urban Forester: ISA Certified Arborist #WE-7558A
California Center for Sustainable Energy - Division of Urban Forestry - San Diego County Tree Map public resource for community forestry

"Urban Forestry is America's front line defense in the fight against climate change."


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History of Blueberry Grape