WHAT ARE GRAPES?
Grapes are a type of fruit. They grow in bunches or clusters on
grape vines. They are classified as a type of berry because they
grow on vines. Grape clusters can be green, red, pink or purple.
WHERE ARE GRAPES PRODUCED IN BC?
British Columbia, grapes are grown in the Okanagan Valley, the
Similkameen Valley, the Fraser Valley, and on Vancouver Island. The
largest producing areas are in the Okanagan Valley near Oliver/Osoyoos
and Kelowna. Grapes need a warm climate with an annual average
temperature above 10°C. The single most limiting factor for growing
grapes is low temperatures which prevent grapes from ripening or
damage plants in the vineyards . Grapes also need a mix of rain and
sun. In the Okanagan Valley, they need to be irrigated. This is
because the valley receives less than 30mm of annual precipitation
as a result of being in the rain shadow of mountains. Coastal rains
are forced up the Cascade Mountains and dry out before reaching the
HOW MANY GRAPES DO WE PRODUCE?
In 1991, BC produced about 4000 tonnes of grapes. This amount of
grapes could be envisioned as being the same as 4000 Chevy Nova
cars. 220 of these tonnes were sold as fresh grapes. Production from
one year to the next fluctuates because of low temperature damage
and variation in precipitation (irrigation and rain). Wineries use
much more than we produce, but may not want all of the production to
come from local sources.
HOW ARE GRAPES PRODUCED?
cultivation is called viticulture. Viti means vine in Latin. Grapes
grow on long thin vines that twist around anything. Most commercial
growers set up some type of trellis system in fields to support the
vines. Trellis systems are a series of posts, sometimes with
crossarms, connected by wires which the grapes twist around. This
keeps the grapes off the ground and allows workers and machines easy
access to the fields. Vineyards are rows and rows of grape vines
trained on trellis systems.
A grape vine does not produce a full crop for 3 to 4 years. It
takes five years before a grape vine produces at full capacity,
which is 10 to 35kg per vine. Vines are pruned to limit harvest so
the vines reach mature size quickly. Grape clusters form in spring
and are harvested in the fall. Grapes are picked by hand or by
machine. Table grape and fresh grape clusters are individually
picked by twisting the stem by hand or by cutting them off with a
knife or pruning shears. Wine grapes can be harvested by a machine
which shakes the clusters off the grape vines.
WHAT DOES A GRAPE LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
of the grapes grown world wide are used in wine. Wine grapes are
green and red. Grapes are also eaten fresh. Purple or white grapes
are squished to make juice. Jams and jellies are made from juice and
pulp; fruit leather is made from the skin and pulp. Grapeseed oil is
made from the seeds. This oil is used for cosmetics and cooking. It
is rated better than Extra Virgin olive oil.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE GRAPES LEAVE THE FARM?
After harvest, table grapes are sent directly to market. Wine
grapes are picked into bins and sent to a winery. At the winery, the
grapes are crushed. For white wine the skins and seeds are removed.
The juice is put into containers to ferment. This fermentation
process which creates alcohol and carbon dioxide takes 10 to 30 days
or more depending on the type of wine that is produced. Then the
wine is racked and all the pulp, seeds and skin are removed. The
wine is put into casks or barrels to age; then it is bottled and
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE GRAPE PRODUCER FACE?
grape growers tried to import European varieties to grow in North
America. These vines were ruined by the cold winters and various
diseases and insects. Now European grapes are grown by grafting
European grapes onto North American stock. Insecticides are
sometimes used to control many insects that damage grape plants.
Grapes also need to be protected from birds. This can be done by
netting the grapes, using noise machines, or using colourful
streamers which frighten the birds. Fencing a vineyard is important
to keep deer out. Rabbits like young grape vines. Plastic or wire
guards, or low electric fences can be used to keep them at bay.
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING GRAPES?
- Vineyard owner
- Field workers to prune, spray and harvest
- Winery owners and workers
- Liquor store employees
1 ½ cups grapes (138g)
||Calories from Fat 10
||% Daily Value*
|Total Fat 1g
|Saturated Fat 0g
|Total Carbohydrate 24g
|Dietary Fibre 1g
|Vitamin A 2%
||Vitamin C 25%
|*Percent Daily Values are based
on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Interesting Fact About Grapes:
More grapes are grown than any other fruit in the world. 90% of
grapes are used for wine.
- Contacts and other resources:
- BC Independent Grape
- BC Wine Institute
- BCMAL -