I bought a house that happens to have a grape vine producing lots of fruit. They are quite small (approx 12mm diameter) and not very sweet, but black in colour. I do not know the varietal.

Can anyone tell me if its worth trying to make wine out of them? All the "make your own wine" guides seem to omit statements about general suitably of the source fruit.

leaves:leaves as requested

  • 1
    I can't identify the exact variety, but it clearly looks like an american grape. That heavy serration on the leaves is a dead give away. European grapes the serrations are much smaller and many have deep lobes cut into the leaves. We'll know for sure when the grapes ripen. If my hunch is correct, the clusters will be loose. Wine grapes the clusters are very tight. Then the whole slip skin thing... bkwine.com/features/winemaking-viticulture/… Jul 26 '18 at 17:25
  • thank you - I will post pictures when they mature - you can see some clusters behind the leaf in the middle. Jul 27 '18 at 7:49
  • i bottled it and it made about three litres. I'll leave it a year or so, the taste is somewhat like cherry at the moment, Sep 27 '18 at 7:41

First let me say you can pretty much make wine from all grapes, just some of that wine will be better than others.

If I had a picture of the leaves, I could probably tell if it's wine grapes or not, but I am guessing that it's just table grapes. I think the easiest way to guess that wine grapes get powdery mildew quite easily and table grapes (bred from north American grapes vs. European grapes for wine grapes) don't get powdery mildew. Here is a good website showing what it looks like on grapes. If they are wine grapes, they should have it by now (unless you have been spraying chemicals to prevent or get rid of it).

The other key indicator you won't be able to figure out until the grapes fully ripen. When they are ripe, squeeze the grape and if the skin slips off the inner part of the grape, then they are table grapes. If the skin just spits and juice comes out, wine grapes.

I'm about 99% sure you have a table grape since that's what most people outside of wine growing regions have access to and they are much more rugged than wine grapes. My bet is that you have a Concord, which is the most common backyard grape in the USA.

Yes, you can make wine from them. You might have to add some sugar since table grapes don't get as sweet as wine grapes, but it should make a decent wine!

  • picture added as per your request @farmersteve Jul 26 '18 at 7:52
  • So I gathered two bucket loads and spent a lot of time squeezing them by hand. I now have 3 litres of red grape juice and a selection of the skins and pulp (I have quite a small vessel and all the pulp would be too much volume. I added the yeast and some sugar last night so we will see in a week's time. The grape juice is semi sweet, more so than I expected Sep 18 '18 at 7:46

If they are not sweet, they are most probably not very good to make wine. Some grapes are good to be eaten, but do not produce good wine.

I tried making wine from sweet dark grapes that looked like wine grapes but were not (forgot the name), so I ended up throwing it out, the lack of acidity and taste were not up to par.

You can try a small quantity, add sugar if the grapes are not sweet enough. If you find the result good enough, you may buy some wine grapes and mix them together next time.

It's worth trying.


Wine grapes have a really thick pith inside and make seeds, table grapes generally have less pith and are seedless varieties. Here's a diagram. Harvesting them when ripe is the hard part, you have to take a random sample and check the sugar levels with refractometer. Iirc, 31 brix or so is fully ripe; less suitable varieties will peak at lower values.

Edit: Here are the exact parameters for wine grape harvest that would make good wine: "Brix: >24 ; TotalAcid .58 - .65 ; PH 3.4 – 3.6" from source.

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    31 brix is so over the top ripe, it would be late harvest wine. Normal range of brix is 18-25. The highest brix I've ever picked is 27 and that was about 17 percent alcohol... Jul 21 '18 at 3:33
  • These are small grapes with a single huge seed,. Sep 18 '18 at 7:47

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