Do Grapes Grow in Maine?
I would have to say yes. I’ve been eating handfuls of grapes right off the vine for two days. I began yesterday when I was mowing the lawn in the rain. I’ve had my eye on one of our vines for weeks and every time I’ve tried one of the grapes that seemed like it was changing colors, it was too sour. Well, just yesterday, I hit the jackpot and found a few clusters of purple grapes that were perfectly sweet. So every time I passed by on the lawnmower, I’d grab another cluster of grapes to shove in my mouth. They were so good. I’m telling you.
I have no idea if there are vineyards in Maine. All I know is that we bought a few vines about four years ago in late March from Tractor Supply down in Augusta. We planted four of them next to the fence that surrounds the pool and they did absolutely nothing for three years afterwards. Well, last year they grew slightly. Two vines died, but two vines lived and this year, they grew like crazy and actually produced fruit. The photo above is of a cluster of purple grapes. This is the type I was eating yesterday as I was mowing the lawn. This next type is some sort of red grape. They’re still far too bitter to eat.
The vines have grown so much that they are almost covering the entire fence, which is about 50 feet long. When a grape vine finally grows, it really grows.
I’m pretty excited about having these grapes grow in the property. I’ve seen other more wide grapes growing in the area, but I haven’t eaten any of those. These do have seeds in them, so I basically just suck the juice out of the whole wad I shove in my mouth and then spit it all out after the flavor is gone. I know, gross.
Anyway, if you’re wondering whether or not grapes can grow in Maine, I hope I answered your question.
PS – Japanese Beetles love to eat the grape leaves, so if you would like to grow this fruit in earnest, you’ll have to do something about that.
How to Make Homemade Grape Juice
As I mentioned in my above section about grapes growing in Maine, we happen to have quite a few of them. Initially, we had four vines growing, but somehow, two of them disappeared. We now have two heavy producers. The grapes that are growing are slightly different. One is nice and sweet while the other is sweet, but mildly tart. I like eating the sweet ones off the vine, but since the tart variety was producing about ten times the grapes, I had to think of something to do with them. That’s when the idea of making some homemade grape juice came to mind. Surprisingly, it’s something that’s pretty easy to do. And it’s better than letting five to ten pounds of grapes go to waste right on the vine.
By the way, I bought these vines at Tractor Supply a few years ago. If you frequent Tractor Supply, you know how they have boxes of blueberry, raspberry and grape seedlings right up near the registers around March and April. If you’re interested, just pick up a few boxes then for yourself. They’re about $4 a piece. Plant the vines near something they can climb in the future.
This morning, I went outside with a large bowl and a pair of scissors in hand. I was on a mission. I wanted to cut all the grapes off the one vine that had any left. Like I said, I got hungry when I looked at the other vine, so those were all gone. I think I did well. I filled the entire bowl. And then I came back inside and rinsed the grapes and stems in a colander.
Don’t they look like blueberries? They’re about the same size too. These aren’t like the seedless store-bought grapes we see all over the place. These are special. These are for people like me who like to make their own grape juice.
It took me about 15 minutes to pluck all the grapes from the stems. Once I did that, I rinsed them all off again very well through the colander and then put them in a bowl.
Then I transferred them to a large pot and mashed them all up with a potato masher.
At this point, the juice that comes out of the grapes doesn’t look like that traditional purple grape juice that we’re all so familiar with. It looks like the white grape juice that some people enjoy. I’ve seen videos of grapes being pressed cold to produce the white juice, but I like the rich purple stuff much more.
The next step, after mashing, is to add about two cups of water to the pot, or as much water as is necessary to slightly cover the mash. Then, put the pot over high heat on a stove top. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for about 10 minutes. This is what the result will look like.
It’s a thick, rich grape juice, along with all the pulp. The only thing left to do was strain the juice from the pulp. I did this using a mesh screen strainer. I didn’t manage to take any pictures of this part because I was busy freaking out about how the juice was staining everything it touched. I now have a purple wooden spoon and purple rings on the counter top. Oh well. I got the job done though and after letting all the juice drain from the pulp. I tasted a glass of it. It’s pretty marvelous. I’d say I got about a quart and a half of juice out of my bowl of grapes. They say that each pound of grapes will yield one cup of juice.
And yes, I took this picture by myself, camera in one hand, glass in the other. I hope everyone appreciates that.
Since these grapes were slightly tart, the juice is as well. It’s a bit more sweet due to the cooking and I have to say that it’s really thick and great tasting. I’m so happy to use all those grapes that I thought were going to go to waste just last week. I think I’ll freeze most of the juice and take it out when I feel like I need a boost of sugar. I’m sure there’s lot of that in there. Thanks for reading!