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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!

57 replies on “Grapes: They can actually grow in Alberta!”

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

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.

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:

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.

Check out any Canadian tire garden centre and you’ll find one or two varieties of grape vines. I have 3 in my garden (3yrs now) and they are really bearing fruits now. Grapes are tiny but they taste great!

Hi r u still in Fort Mcmurray? I need some help to grow grapes. How u protect in winter and what kind of grapes r good to grow here? Can u please let me know.

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.

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

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.

Dan,
Where did you buy your Kristin cherry tree. How tall does it grow . Does it produce dark big sweet juicy berries.

blue grass nurseries by Balzac ( north of Calgary )
X-Lg variety of cherry trees
just there, beginning of May, lots of trees

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.

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

Hi Hugo
How is the grape growing going? I would like to start some, I live near Millarville. Need info and advice!
Thanks
Mo

Hi. How are your grapes doing? I’m at Millarville and would like to start some.. need info and advice!
Thx
Mo

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?

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?

Check out any Canadian tire garden centre and you’ll find one or two varieties of grape vines. I have 3 in my garden (3yrs now) and they are really bearing fruits now. Grapes are tiny but they taste great!

Hi. I have grapes. Apparently you can cuttings so you are welcome to them as I need to do some fall pruning I think. Lots of grapes!

*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.
.

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.

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!

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

Hi! I just moved to Medicine Hat and am wondering with all the sun/heat would a south facing spot still be okay? It would be against my house, white siding.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Hi Maro. ,I’m just reading this post now as a few weeks ago, I bought four grapevines from a red deer nursery two beta and two valiant vines . I heard a neighbour to build me raised flowerbeds on the edge of my deck south facing and planted them in these planters, but I’m now worried that they were over winter.
I’m debating taking them out and digging them into the ground somewhere along the edge if you have any advice as to how you overwinter them in a raised bed I’d be so appreciative. It’s very hard to find information on that in zone three!
I originally thought that if I just watered them in really good like all my perrenials and trees that be OK
Thank you in advance if you get the message

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

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

Looked up growing grapes in Calgary and I can’t help but wanting to know more about growing KIWIS here! I have so many questions… Would love to grow it too! And get in touch with you

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.

Somehow I lost what I had posted in 2018 ….2020 and my grapes are in their 3rd year……(I laid down 3 vines last winter) and left the rest on trellis but covered all the roots with mulch……all have quite a few grapes ….but the ones laid down have the grapes higher on the vines and also budded out before the ones left on the trellis……I have a Minnesota 78 grape…doing well ….but has a slower fruit growth when compared with the Valiant grape…..
I live in Swan River, Manitoba..

My grapes are in the 3rd year and doing well. I live at Swan River, Manitoba and we have cold winters…..some of the grape vines I leave on the trellis for the winter with good root covering…some are laid down on the ground and covered…….The ones that were laid down fruit higher on the vine….the ones on trellis fruit near the bottom ……I have Valiant, Minnesota 78 and Beta grapes….

Hi! This fall I harvested 12 pounds of grapes…….from 3 year old grape vines……now have done my fall pruning to reduce winter kill…..and also covered roots with mulch …also laid a few young vines down and covered them……so far no snow in Swan River, MB but as soon we get good amount…will shovel it around the vines to insulate the vines…….Hoping for a good harvest in 2021…..Mary Jane…

What month do you prune? I am in Edmonton. The grapes are on a south facing wall. We have always pruned in February but it seems really early. I still haven’t done it this year. What month do you recommend?

John: February is fine. I prune mine probably a bit later – I usually wait for the majority of the snow to be gone – probably late March or early April (mostly because I don’t want to work in the cold and snow!) – but you could really do it any time. I’ll prune a couple times during the summer too.

Is this blog still active. I have 4 or5 Marquette and Frontenac grape vines that have good looking grapes and if the frost holds off for a couple more weeks i;m hoping to make some wine . Has anyone had any experience with these grapes.

Murray: This blog is still barely alive!… I don’t post much new, but I do check it a couple times a year. I personally don’t have experience with those grapes and wine… Anyone else?

Hi there, wondering if I could buy a cutting from you?
I am in central Alberta, (Red Deer / Rimbey)
And or come learn in person? If you have time of course °

Hi Jennifer: Unfortunately the information in this blog is a bit outdated. I’ve since moved from this location and don’t have any significant grape vines – just a couple sticks that I planted very recently! That being said, you can likely get some Valiant Grapes from a local nursery. If you’re around Red Deer, Parkland Nursery would most certainly have them this spring.

I moved to a house that had what looks like Concord grapes against the south side. I left the grapes over winter as I had no time to research and know what to do regarding harvest. Now that it’s spring I’m wondering if I should pull all the fruit off or what I should do. Should I be pruning branches, etc? Any tips you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.

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