Wild grape question

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I live in the Catskills, zone 5, and there were several wild grape vines on the property when I moved in. Up till now I have simply clipped them back and used the vines for decorative wreaths, because the grapes are horrendously tart.
What I was wondering is whether it is possible, by feeding and nurture, to make them produce more palatable fruit? I also have 6 apple trees which had been untended so long they were nearly crabbed. Six years of feeding and care have brought them back to nearly perfect producers (I am strictly organic and don't mind a little discoloration on my apples - they taste great!).
I realize the cases are different - the apple trees always had the capability of producing large luscious fruit with proper care. I don't particularly *need* the grapes or I would buy a few cultivated vines, I'm just curious. Can wild grapes be persuaded to do the same, or should I forget it and just keep harvesting the vines for crafts?
Thanks, Sylvia
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PhoenixWench wrote:

Just a guess but I'm thinking your vines will never get any better. You could use the grapes for making jelly though.
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George Shirley wrote:

Or vinegar. Maybe first try to make some wine, and if still tart, leave it open for fermenting into vinegar. I would do it for fun.
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PhoenixWench wrote:

Not really without cross pollinating it with a palatable strain of grapes. Some of the next generation seeds from a cross pollination will produce a hybrid which may be tastier. Sow the seeds of the tastier hybrid and you get a cultivar which may and may not be significantly tastier. Who knows... ? It's all fun to experiment.
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PhoenixWench wrote:

With proper pruning and feeding, you can probably get a much bigger crop... of sour grapes. :-) That's not totally a bad thing because tart grapes make better jelly than sweet ones.
Bob
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I'm with Bob on this. When the vines go dormant, prune and leave no more than 24 buds. Native grapes haven't appealed to wine drinkers, in general, so I would recommend the fresh fruit, jelly, and dolma route with these vines.
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Agreed. The wild mustang grapes around here are very tart, and make amazing jelly...
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Peace! Om

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wrote:

Hi Sylvia,
Some areas of our property are overrun with wild grape vines. The more you try to cut them back, the more they seem to grow. So, we have tried reaping some benefit from them. We've tried using the fruit for jelly and, it does make very nice jelly. I've also used the dried vines for smoking meat. Gerry has used them for making wreaths but, she hasn't been doing much in the crafts area for a few years. However, the jelly is a now secondary benefit for us. We really enjoy Dolmades and the wild grape leaves work wonderfully. We are also organic so there's no problem with using the leaves. Simply harvest them in late Spring or early Summer. You can use them right away and also preserve them for use throughout the year. If you're interested in this type of thing, I just did a quick search on Google and came up with this: http://tinyurl.com/mpxvre Oh, I almost forgot your question. If you go ahead with your effort to improve them, I think the absolute best you can expect is perhaps slightly bigger fruit but, I'm willing to bet it'll be just as tart. BTW, do you know how to tell when the wild grapes are ripe? It's when the bird droppings on the hood and windshield of your vehicle stain it dark purple ;-).
Ross.
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snipped-for-privacy@forteinc.com wrote:

ROFL - yeah - that sounds about right ;-) OK, saved all this for future reference. I may try feeding them so the birds and wildlife can enjoy more bigger grapes down the road. I might try making jam in a couple years, too, when there are enough. And I love dolmades, so you just answered one unspoken question. Since I garden organically they are clean, so I see Greek dinners in my future. Thanks!!!
--
Sylvia

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I have similar questions about my grape vines which produce small, seedy grapes that don't have a lot of flavor. We LOVE Greek food, so every year I get a couple of good cannings of grape leaves off of them! To me, the main crop is the leaves, while the grapes are just fun for the kids to nibble on when they are playing outside. Perhaps next year we will have enough to make jelly or wine, but the juice extracting process is so tedious that I will probably just stick to the leaves. --S.
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wrote:

Gerry just reminded me of another use for the grape leaves. She always puts one in the bottom of the jar along with a head of dill when we make dill pickles. It is supposed to keep the pickles crisp and ours are always quite crisp so they probably do something.
Ross.
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I did that, but it didn't work. Bummer. --S.
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snipped-for-privacy@forteinc.com wrote:

How does that taste? I have a lot of them growing on my fence line and had planned to prune the heck out of them this winter so I can get a better grape crop this next year.
I'm just learning how to smoke meat in my offset smoker, so may dry the vines instead of discarding them...
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Try grapevine for smoking fish. Rainbow trout smoked over a combo of grapevine and apple wood is food fit for the gods. Steve
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Okay, thank you. :-)
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Steve Peek wrote:

Good to know! Thanks ;-) Hubby just got his boat finally put down by the reservoir and is looking forward to some trout & bass fishing this week. He was delighted to hear this ;-)
--
Sylvia

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wrote:

I'm not very good at taste descriptions so, I'll just say that various pork cuts and a couple of Muskovy ducks smoked using a mix of wild grapevines and mulberry were excellent. Just one warning, be very Very careful pruning out your fence rows. Poison ivy has a nasty habit of disguising itself and mixing in with the grapevines ;-(. Don't ask how I know, just say that a 10 day prednisone regimen did help.
Ross.
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snipped-for-privacy@forteinc.com wrote:

Ouch :-( You have my sympathy. As one who does not fare well when exposed to poison ivy I am very alert when dealing with untended areas of our property. When I spot the nasty stuff I have hubby yank it - he took the shots as a kid and can practically roll in it with no effect. I just have to remind him to scrub down afterwards ;-)
--
Sylvia

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snipped-for-privacy@forteinc.com wrote:

Ow. Thanks for the warning! To date, Poison Ivy has never made an appearance in my yard and I've never been affected by it when wandering in the "wild".
I know I'm immune to poison oak, but I'd rather not take chances. <g>
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The French wine growers have grills on 3" to 4" legs, that they will put over a fire of grape canes burning/smoldering on the ground and and cook thin slices of meat.
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