The grape industry in Okanagan Valley has long history, dating back to the plantings of J.W. Hughes in the late twenties. The extensive plantings were mainly grapes from New York state with names like Sheridan, Buffalo, Fredonia, Concord, Niagara, Red Roger, Patricia and Campbell Early. Some of those original grape plants can be found in those early vinewyards and many of those varieties still have their loyal following. These grape varieties are most familiarly used for eating out of hand and for jams, jellies, and juice. Try our grape chutney as a condiment with your Thanksgiving dinner and our grape conserve made with traditional grapes is sure to bring back memories of a long warm summer when you eat it on your waffles in January!
The key fresh table grape variety now in the marketplace is the Sovereign Coronation grape. The Coronation grape was developed under the Plant Breeding Program directed by Lyall Denby in the 1970’s. Created at the Agriculture Canada Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, the Coronation grape is a cross between native North American varieties Patricia and Himrod. The Coronation grape is a fairly hardy variety, ripening in late August, and is available in the market earlier than other traditional varieties. It features a protective thick skin and distinctive musky taste, and is also virtually seedless, making it attractive to consumers. Other varieties from the same program that are now sold in limited quanitities are Sooke, Skookum, and Jade, all green seedless varieties.
Okanagan grapes really are a “taste of our own”, and the Okanagan Grape season is something to celebrate. The season this year will start around September 1st and run to mid-October. Once you get a taste of this year’s crop you will wish it were longer.