Grapes: They can actually grow in Alberta!

This week I experienced my first real grape harvest. Sure, I’d had managed to grow a few small clusters before – just enough to get a taste. But this year was the first year that I’ve been able to grow enough grapes to eat all I wanted fresh, plus harvest enough to make up some delicious grape jelly for the winter.

I have four different varieties growing in my yard here in central Alberta, but the two varieties that are mature enough to produce are my Valiant Grapes, and my Marechael Foch Grapes. The valiant grapes are larger than the marechael grapes (though still smaller than what you might find in the grocery store) and are packed with flavour! In fact, they are very similar in flavour to the Concord grapes that you buy in the store.

I have them growing on the south side of my garage on a trellis with my Kiwis. (Yes, you heard right… with MY KIWIS.) I’ve found this location to work great for three reasons!

  1. They get piles of sun.
  2. They are protected from the wind (and they grab a bit of extra warmth from the garage.)
  3. They get lots of water since all the rain that falls on the garage roof drips down right in front of them.

The kids love to eat them fresh – though the seed to flesh ratio is pretty high! I enjoy them too, but my wife finds them a bit too tangy for her liking.

However, I’m sure that she’ll enjoy the grape jelly that I made up yesterday. And that was a pretty simply process too.

First, my son and I took our snippers to the grape vines and gathered up about five pounds.

Then we crushed them (stems/seeds/and all) and brought them to a ten minute boil.

Next, we strained out the juice with a cheesecloth, added the sugar and Certo Pectin, and brought that to a boil for another minute.

All that was left after that was to pour it in jars and shortly thereafter, spread it on fresh bread!

And all that to say that it’s really true: Grape growing is not reserved for California or Italy. Not even British Colombia. Grapes can actually grow in Alberta! Try it – I think you’ll like it!

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35 Responses to Grapes: They can actually grow in Alberta!

  1. Benoit Roussel says:

    To protect my grape from cold winter I put over a tire with cut side off and turned let the spread out and fill the tire to the top.This save root and every thing is flat on the ground

  2. Benoit Roussel says:

    I put rainx on my fruit tree trunk as winter protection.

  3. I’m impressed. Originally from Alberta but living in the Okanagan for more years than ever, I think it’s great you are trying out things that are not supposed to grow there. More gardeners should test their wings instead of just sticking with the tried and true all the time.

  4. Janice Harris says:

    Here in Fort McMurray I’ve been growing the Valiant grape for over 15 years against the south side of the house. Tastes just like Welchs Grape juice! The only problem the last 2 years has been white fly.

    • tim says:

      What variety is that? Where can I find a cold hardy grape variety that will grow in Edmonton?

      • Tim:

        This year I have Valiant and Kay Grey, and possibly Arthur Pinchbeck. Valiant is a purple grape for juice or wine similar to Mogan David. Kay Grey is supposed to be a table grape. AP is a Labruska x wild grape, bred to not have a foxy taste.

  5. Salina says:

    The house we moved into in Lethbridge last year has grapes (I wish I knew the variety). We got ~50 lbs of de-stemmed grapes! They taste great too, we made grape juice and canned it.

  6. khris says:

    Would like to know were u for the plant to grow the grapes.

    • Dave says:

      Khris: I’ve bought grapes at my local nursery (Red Deer) as well as from T&T Seeds (Mail-order out of Manitoba).

  7. Dan Mclean says:

    I live in Lethbridge,Alberta and this past summer i tasted sweet cherries off of my Kristin cherry tree, this is the 3rd summer for this tree, has come thru 2 winters with no protection, I also have 2 of Sask University sour cherries trees which cross-pollinated with the Kristin cherry, am very happy with this cherry tree.

  8. Spence says:

    We planted Valiant, Minnesota and Beta grapes, two years ago all have survived here in Black Diamond Alberta I was almost ready to harvest a crop of grapes this year, but, we had heavy snowfall and an early frost(Sept 10) so didn’t get to taste a ripe grape . In this area we had lingering snow in spring so our Apricot, Pear, and Cherry tree’s never even blossomed We did however have a great crop of apples.

    • Hugo says:

      Hi Spence, I am about to put up some Beta grapes and Valiant grapes West of Turner Valley. Where did you get the Beta grapes? How much more time did you need after September 10 to get to ripe grapes with Beta?

      Would love to get together for coffee or a glass of wine to learn from your experience.

      Hugo

  9. Rosie says:

    We live just outside of Whitecourt at an elevation of over 800m above sea level. I’ve been growing Valiant grapes against the south side of the house for 4 years now. The vine gets huge and they are just like the article at the top describes. Next spring I plan to build something large for them to climb and relocate them.
    Have any of you tried growing more plants from the seeds?
    Do I have to have male and female plants or does that matter for grapes?

    • Amanda says:

      Hey! I live in fox creek and was wondering about your grapes want to plant some so bad!! What kind are they and where on earth could I find them!?! Any ideas?

    • Johnnny says:

      *grapes plants are not male and female. The flowers aren’t either.
      Rather than growing from seed, I propagated some of the plant that I pruned off, used some rooting hormone from Walmart I think. I had 3 of the 4 I started last year survive. Then you know what kind of plant you end up with. If you have grapes that are grafted on a more hardy root stock this won’t work.
      .

  10. Naydene says:

    Should I expect to get concord grapes the first year of growth?

    • Dave says:

      Naydene: No – likely not. In fact, even if it does try to produce fruit in the first two years, you should remove it so that the plant can grow strong first. Then, by the 3rd or 4th year, I’d start expecting to see some fruit.

  11. Roy Duncan says:

    i have been growing grapes in Moose Jaw , Sask. for a number of years. Good crop this year.

  12. Christina Cox says:

    Hi. I really like the trellis you made! I read how you made jam/jelly, and I wanted to help. Use this: VICTORIO VKP250 Food Strainer and Sauce Maker. I believe NorPro has a good one too. All you do is wash, cook down (optional), cool a little, and crank through the strainer. Skin and seeds are sent one way, and juice and pulp are sent another way for you to use. In my opinion, it’s like the difference of cutting a tree down with an hatchet or a chain saw. Make sure you buy an additional attachment of the GRAPE SPIRAL, or the skin/seeds will get stuck and won’t push through. Can use this for tomatoes, applesauce, etc. You will LOVE it!

  13. Med.Hat Mary says:

    Lots of grape clusters THIS year. Am wondering about clipping OFF excess vines, letting the plant strength go into the fruit.

  14. Murray says:

    I am near Gunn ,I have 3 vines ,Valiant & Beta, I don’t know which is which. They have no protection but are producing heavily.They are very tasty but I am trying to make wine with them. An attempt 2 years ago produced wine that even I can’t drink.
    This year we picked the grapes after the first frost ( oct 5),we froze some to make it easier to juice and a few days ago I mashed the fruit and put it in my fermenter, I’ve got 26 litres, today I put in some nutrient and yeast and am waiting to see how it goes.
    Supposedly these grapes do not make good wine.
    These vines are 5 or 6 years old.
    I have a 2 year old Frontenac and a 1 year old Marquette that are supposed to be wine grapes.
    I would like to hear about your wine making experiences.

    • Hugo says:

      Hi Murray,

      I would love to chat. I’m looking at putting in a vinyard with Beta, Valiant and Marquette and plan to make wine from it. I would love to work together with you in the fall of 2017 to make wine from the grapes you have. I would also love to learn from your experience.

      Kind regards,

      Hugo

      • Murray says:

        Hi Hugo,
        I wish you were closer, I see you are near Turner Valley and I am between Alberta Beach and Gunn, about 45 miles NW of Edm.Have you got your grape vines yet. My vines are totally unprotected so I’m always wondering in the spring if they will be winterkilled , we’ll see this spring I guess.
        I am in Florida now ,just waiting for some warm weather to go North, I left my grape wine in a carboy for the winter and will report on it when I get back.

  15. Don Birkholz says:

    I live in SE Montana, but cannot grow many fruits (have had many mild winters lately, but our average is -30F. I have tried some grapes (have seen the Valiant growing in Broadus). Thirty or so years ago somebody sent me a bunch of grapes that I think were Niels Hanson hybrids (Shakoka, Chontay, Toshka, etc.) I have mostly ignored them for years, but the last few years I have moved one closer to my house that produces every year and finally I decided to make jelly out of it since it was too tart to eat. (Good for jelly). But I still have a few varieties that survived and are grassed in and I am trying to suppress and spray the grass. One of these had a few small bunches I was starting to evaluate until the birds beat me to it, but the grapes I ate almost tasted like Concord. I will make a concerted effort to get grapes from these next year. I think the one by the house may be possibly a Mandan grape, looking at a list of Hansen’s grapes and eliminating the reds, whites, sweets, lates, and large ones.

  16. Chris says:

    Hi all,
    I just ordered 100 Somerset grape vines that I plan to grow on a south facing hill near Vulcan, Alberta. Does anyone have experience with these in Alberta? For me this is an experiment.

    • Peter Ojamaa says:

      Chris … vines you say? I like that idea. Where did you source these vines? Leave in Calgary and have a little bit of ‘Arizona’ against my south facing wall!
      Peter

  17. Maro Tsamalidis says:

    I have I believe the Valiant Grape in the city of Calgary. They were bought at superstore garden center and were advertised as chinook hardy. I have 4 plants.

    They are in a raised bed, and climb up onto our deck trellis and have now covered about 10 feet of it. It’s been about 6 years now and the last year 2016, was the first time there was any fruit to speak of. I always wonder if they’re going to come back. Before I saw the any sign of life in the plants in the bed, the fines all had leaf buds! It has become very unruly and I suppose I need to prune it somehow, but now that it’s nearly June I wonder if it’s too late for that?

    My biggest problem is whitefly.. any idea how to get rid of it? I have been using home made dawn dish soap and water to spray on the leaves. I wanted to harvest the leaves to make Dolmades, stuffed grapevine leaves, but the flies seem to ruin them and they turn brownish.

    This past year I left the fruit on the vine to help nourish the plant thru winter, is this advisable? Should I pick off the dried grapes now? They look like raisins. Bunches of raisins. I am not an experienced gardener so any helpful advice is appreciated. You can also email me at albertagreekgirl at gmail dot com

    • Dave says:

      Maro: Yes, it’s best to prune grapes when they are still dormant, but now is probably better than never. I don’t think leaving the grapes on or taking them off make any difference to how they winter. As for the whiteflies, they are a challenging pest. Ladybugs are natural predators for whiteflies. You can also spray them with soapy water. That’s probably limited in it’s effectiveness, but worth a try. Or there are horticultural oils you can spray.

  18. Rhonda Hamilton says:

    ok

    I am a rookie grape grower in Lethbridge Alberta. Living in this 100 year old house (since February so no experience with the seasons yet) great southern and protected wind exposure mature grape veins….likely 3 inches in diameter and 2 or 3 hardy stems!
    Can you water them too much? I put the hose on them once or twice a week for an hour or so. Meanwhile it rains (a bit here …semi arid) but overhanging trees may reduce the moisture.
    Please advise me as to how much to water. Thank you

  19. robert hall says:

    I have been growing a grape for about 10 years now with out any protection and it seems to survive calgary winters of -30 I thought i had lost it 4 years ago when mice built a nest around the base of the truck and spent all winter chewing it right down to ground level. To my surprise it started to grow new stems, so they are pretty hardy. learned a lot from all the comment here than
    thank you bob

  20. Med.Hat Mary says:

    Is it best to wait to harvest till AFTER a few frosts? (-1 -3 overnight expected…Sept.21/17)

  21. Med.Hat Mary says:

    Is it best to wait to harvest till AFTER a few frosts? (-1 -3 overnight expected…Sept.21/17)
    p.s. luckily a friends lent me a pot/distiller type contraption….. wash grapes, place in pot, after quite a while,beautiful juice comes out, bottle, sterile, winter JUICE to enjoy as IS, or turn into
    jellies etc.

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